Starting this August, anyone legally eligible to own a gun in North Dakota will be able to carry a concealed firearm without a permit.
Last Thursday, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum signed "constitutional carry" legislation removing the need for a concealed-carry permit in the state. According to a government statement, the law won't come into effect until Aug. 1, 2017.
"North Dakota has a rich heritage of hunting and a culture of deep respect for firearm safety," Burgum said in the statement. "As a hunter and gun owner myself, I strongly support gun rights for law-abiding citizens."
Residents still have the option to get a licence in order to be able to carry a concealed weapon in other states that do require permits to do so.
Planning a trip south of the border soon? Here's a few basics on the law.
Does this apply to everybody?
Not exactly. First of all, the carrier has to be at least 18 years old. Only people who have lived in North Dakota for at least one year — and have a driver's licence or ID card to prove it — are eligible, and the carrier must be legally permitted by state and federal law to carry a gun.
According to the North Dakota government, there are a number of reasons an individual might be prohibited from owning a firearm, including:
- Felony conviction.
- Conviction for a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
- Conviction for a misdemeanor crime involving violence with use of a weapon.
- Use or addiction to drugs.
- Dishonourable discharge from the military.
- Renounced U.S. citizenship or illegal alien status.
- Protection order.
Are carriers required to have any gun training?
No. The old law doesn't strictly require it, either. The existing licensing system includes two ranks: Class 1, which requires firearms training, and Class 2, which doesn't.
But Burgum is encouraging citizens who plan to take advantage of the new law to seek out training anyway.
"Gun ownership is both a right and a responsibility, and that responsibility begins with individuals and families," the North Dakota governor said in a statement.
What other states allow concealed weapons without a permit?
Most states do require a licence to carry a concealed firearm, but the number of those that don't is growing. Last year, four states axed the permit requirement: Idaho, West Virginia, Mississippi and Missouri, according to the National Rifle Association. The year before that, Kansas and Maine did the same thing. North Dakota is the most recent addition to the list, with New Hampshire a close second. That state enacted its concealed-carry law in February.
Also last month, South Dakota's government turned down a proposed law to the same effect. Governor Dennis Daugaard wrote an op-ed in the Rapid City Journal calling the proposal "bad legislation which would lead to a whole host of unintended consequences."
According to the NRA, there are 12 states in total that have laws along these lines: Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming, New Hampshire and now North Dakota.
Any other restrictions?
One important one: anybody carrying a concealed firearm has to inform law enforcement of the fact during any contact. Carriers also have to have a valid driver's licence or Department of Transportation ID card on their person, or a digital image of the card on a mobile device.
The law also doesn't change existing rules around gun ownership: individuals still have to undergo a federal background check to purchase from a federally licensed dealer, and must be 21 or older to purchase a gun.
Finally, certain places are still off-limits for concealed carrying, including schools and publicly owned or operated buildings.