Earlier this month, we broke the news to our readers that Rep. Rick Becker’s (R-Bismarck) long anticipated Constitutional Carry bill was officially coming to the 2017 legislature. House Bill 1169 has now been set for a committee hearing at 9am on Thursday, January 26th.
The issue of whether North Dakota should pass this legislation and allow individuals 21 years and older to carry concealed has the potential to be one of the most hotly contested issues of the 65th Legislative Assembly. Recently the Forum published an on-line poll that asked, “Should N.D. residents be allowed to conceal and carry firearms without a license?” Over 6,700 people responded. 53% responded “Yes”, 45% “No”, and 2% were “Not Sure”.
When comparing this issue to the other polls the Forum has done, Constitutional Carry was far and away the most responded to. With the political climate being a bit different in the Fargo area, it is difficult to gauge the accuracy of the poll on a state-wide level. I suspect that it is reasonable to assume that the Western part of the state would be more favorable to such a proposal.
One of the primary concerns, prior to it’s introduction, was how such a bill would affect reciprocity with other states. As a result, Rep. Becker was wise in how he had the bill crafted. The bill changes nothing with concealed carry licensing requirements, with the exception of lowering the age requirement from 21 to 18. Should someone want the reciprocity with other states of having a Concealed Carry Permit, they can still apply for and obtain one after this bill passes, as long as they meet the requirements set in the North Dakota Century Code.
While some expect that law enforcement will remain neutral on the issue, I suspect there may be some pushback. I hope I am wrong. Concealed carry permit requirements do nothing to protect law enforcement or anybody else. Why? It is not complicated. Criminals do not follow laws.
The reality is that concealed carry requirements often make criminals of otherwise law-abiding citizens. For example, many years ago my brother was traveling and was pulled over by the highway patrol. He laid his pistol in “plain view” (as required by law) where the officer could see it when he approached the vehicle. Unfortunately, my brother was not aware (his fault, I know) that though it was in plain view it was still considered concealed by the existing law at the time, because it had the loaded clip in it.
As the officer approached my brother’s vehicle, he noticed the gun and quickly reached inside and grabbed it out of the window. My brother was arrested and taken to jail, where he posted bail. When it came time for his hearing, the prosecuting attorney was not sympathetic to my brother’s ignorance of the law at the time. At least until she found out that he and his wife were foster parents and that conviction of such a charge could affect their licensure. Upon that realization she dropped the charges.
Was my brother technically in violation of the law? Yes. But this illustrates my point of how ridiculous the law was (it has since changed). The law protected nobody. It only made a criminal out of my brother who sought to harm no one. In fact, the officer left the gun within reach of my brother as he loaded him into the back of the patrol car. That is how threatened the officer felt. He knew my brother was not going to harm him.
What do such gun laws accomplish? They become a deterrent for many law-abiding citizens, so they do not even bother carrying. Who is less safe then? Who wins? That is right. The bad guys who do not care about what the law says.
As the debate picks up on HB 1169, we will address the issue more here on The Minuteman. For now, if you can, plan on attending the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Thursday, January 26th and ask the committee to give it a Do Pass recommendation. If you cannot make the hearing, please see to it that you e-mail them. Their contact information can be found at the following link: http://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/63-2013/committees/house/energy-and-natural-resources