When Senator Oley Larsen (R – District 3) originally sponsored Senate Bill 2139, it was an extremely simple bill… allow those who are caught carrying a concealed weapon without their permit to produce it within ten days of the violation. But after the bill crossed over to the House side, an amendment was added that has nothing to do with failure to carry a concealed weapons permit.
With the addition of the House amendment, the bill now has a provision that adds "an elected official" to the list of exceptions to the restriction for carrying a weapon at public gatherings. The definition currently listed in the North Dakota Century Code for public gatherings "means an athletic or sporting event, a school, a church, and a publicly owned or operated building."
Of course, it’s not as simple as just being an elected official. Any elected official that would like to take advantage of the law (if it becomes law) would be required to maintain "the same level of firearms proficiency as is required by the peace officer standards and training board for law enforcement officers, and possesses a current class 2 concealed weapons permit."
Now, to be clear, I have no problem with elected officials carrying concealed weapons at public gatherings. But I do have an issue with treating them as a special class of citizens by not allowing all other law-abiding citizens to do the same. Are those on the list of exceptions somehow better qualified and more trustworthy than the rest of us? I don’t believe so. After all, they’re just regular folks too.
Having said that, I sense there may be a deeper issue at stake here that perhaps few people are thinking about. By adding the amendment to allow elected officials to carry at public gatherings, I believe the House may have unintentionally put Senator Larsen’s bill at risk.
Earlier in this session, both House Bill 1190 and House Bill 1310 went down in flames in the Senate.
HB 1190 would have allowed, "An individual authorized by the chief justice of the supreme court, governor, speaker of the house, or president pro tempore of the senate, to carry a concealed weapon on property owned or leased by the state."
HB 1310 would have created a highly regulated pilot program wherein schools could have selected an individual(s) to carry concealed.
Given the history with these two bills in the Senate, is Senator Oley Larsen’s bill that originally sailed through the Senate now in jeopardy? I hope not.