Yesterday, the North Dakota Senate passed House Bill 1383. As I wrote after its passage, this was a huge deal. It was — without question — a timely piece of legislation that’s necessary to push back against federal overreach on guns from the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress. Law abiding gun owners in this state should be ecstatic. And gauging by the response on social media, they are. Now we need to get it to the governor’s desk and for him to sign it.
But there was another bill, to go along with HB 1383, that wasn’t fortunate enough to get the Senate’s approval. That was House Bill 1272. Had it become law, it would have made North Dakota a sanctuary state for guns. Unfortunately, the Senate killed the bill on a vote of 10-37 last week. This was a huge mistake.
Had it become law, HB 1272 would have recognized the ability of both commercial operations and private individuals to manufacture firearms, firearm accessories, and ammunition in the state — regardless of federal law — as long as those items remain within our borders. North Dakota needed this bill. Especially when we consider who’s occupying the White House and controlling Congress these days.
Admittedly, HB 1272 had a tough road. This wasn’t the first time it had been proposed in the North Dakota Legislature. Former Rep. Luke Simons (R – District 36) proposed it in 2017 and again in 2021— before his colleagues did the unthinkable and expelled him for unproven allegations of harassment without Due Process. Whether that played into the vote total, we’ll probably never know.
When Simons proposed the bill in 2017, it got the cold shoulder. The committee that heard it gave it a 12-0-2 Do Not Pass. Then the House shot it down on a 22-70 vote. It was pretty sad.
But with a new administration in the White House — one that’s not at all favorable to the Second Amendment — the idea of a sanctuary state for guns got new life. And so, HB 1272 became its reincarnation.
The first sign of hope came in committee where it got an 11-3 Do Pass recommendation— a completely different feel than 2017. Then when it came to the floor for a vote, many of us were stunned at the passionate floor speech of Rep. Mary Johnson (R – District 45) on behalf of State’s Rights and Intrastate Commerce. There was also stellar defense of the bill from Rep. Rick Becker (R – District 7) and Luke Simons too. And when the dust settled, HB 1272 sailed through on a 69-23 vote.
As is often the case, many of us expected a much tougher sell in the Senate. But considering the current state of national politics and the good work on the House side, we thought there was at least a fighting chance. But it wasn’t to be.
Much like the House side in 2017, the Senate Judiciary Committee gave HB 1272 the cold shoulder. The excuse — as is often the case when legislators want to kill a bill — was that it was unworkable and that it would have unintended consequences. So, rather than actually trying to find answers and resolve concerns, they brought it to the Senate floor and asked that it be defeated.
If the opposition to HB 1272 were truthful, they’d admit that the idea of passing a sanctuary state for guns bill was just too uncomfortable for them. In other words, they just didn’t have the moral fortitude to do the right thing.
I get it. It’s not an easy thing to battle the behemoth known as the federal government. In fact, it’s a very uncomfortable — and potentially costly — thing. But is it worth it? When it comes to the people’s rights to keep and bear arms, I’d answer that question with a resounding, “YES!”
Unfortunately, the North Dakota Senate didn’t agree.
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