I’ll let you go back and read the details. But in a nutshell, when the Constitutional Carry legislation known as House Bill 1169 went through the committee process, it ended up being “hoghoused”. And as a result, the bill failed to repeal the section of law (NDCC 62.1-02-10) that prohibited loaded firearms in vehicles– though a repeal was included in the original bill.
Because of this, the verbiage found in this section maintained that one of the requirements to carry loaded in a vehicle be that an individual possess “a valid concealed weapons license”. When word spread about this, four lawmakers signed on to request an Attorney General’s opinion in order to determine how to proceed with the law.
In December, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem finally issued his opinion on the matter. And while the opinion was favorable to gun owners, the feeling among some was that the Attorney General had gotten a bit creative. So, given the fact that the opinion only governs the actions of public officials, until such time a court would rule differently, many felt that the language still needed to be cleaned up in the 2019 Legislative Session.
Today, while I was looking through the Interim Committee Bill Drafts, I noticed that the Judiciary Committee had posted a bill draft in relation to their task of cleaning up language in the Century Code in relation to firearms and weapons. Knowing the problems associated with the section of law that required the Attorney General’s opinion, I thought for sure that section would be included in the committee’s recommendations. There was only one problem– it wasn’t.
I then turned to the Judiciary Committee Meeting Minutes from January 11th to see if there was any discussion on the matter. I was grateful to find that Senator Kelly Armstrong (R – District 36) – who’s not a member of the interim committee – had attended the meeting, and that he had noticed the absence of the correction:
“Senator Armstrong said Section 62.1-02-10 should be included in the bill draft to reflect the Attorney General’s recent opinion regarding loaded firearms in vehicles.”
This was a good catch by Armstrong. If the committee follows his recommendation – and I can’t see a reason why they wouldn’t – it will save some other legislator from having to draft separate legislation to accomplish it.
It makes sense that Senator Armstrong would have a vested interest in seeing to it that this section of the law is included in the committee’s bill draft. After all, he was Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that gave the Constitutional Carry bill a “Do Pass” recommendation last March. And in addition to this, he was one of the four legislators who signed on to request the Attorney General’s opinion.
Constitutional Carry was a historic piece of legislation for North Dakota. The fact that Armstrong is making the effort to see these changes through, to ensure clarity and consistency in the law, is a good thing for North Dakota’s gun owners and a positive reflection on the Senator from District 36.