Later this week, the North Dakota House of Representatives will convene committee hearings on a pair of dangerous proposals that would roll back crucial gun safety laws currently in effect. Scheduled for a hearing Thursday, HB 1169 would dismantle the state’s permit requirement for carrying a hidden, loaded handgun in public. And on the agenda for Friday, HB 1310 would repeal the state’s law forbidding guns in elementary schools, middle schools and high schools.
Like the vast majority of states, North Dakota requires a person to have a permit in order to carry a concealed handgun in public. Obtaining a permit requires handgun safety training and a criminal background check – reasonable measures designed to preserve core public safety standards and prevent dangerous people from carrying hidden, loaded handguns in public places.
HB 1169 would end this permit requirement, a reckless step that would allow dangerous people – including those who have histories of unlawful violence – and people with no firearms safety training to carry hidden, loaded handguns throughout North Dakota.
In other states where the gun lobby has pushed permitless carry bills in recent years, law enforcement leaders have expressed grave concerns about such legislation. Mayors, parents and gun violence survivors have been among the many others urging their representatives not to let the gun lobby push these dangerous bills through the legislative process.
As if HB 1169 weren’t concerning enough, on Friday the House Energy and Natural Resources committee will also hear testimony on HB 1310, a bill that would allow people to carry hidden, loaded handguns into K-12 schools.
Allowing guns in schools would introduce new sources of risks for students and teachers. Everytown research has shown nearly one in six of the more than 200 school shootings since the beginning of 2013 started as a verbal dispute, a statistic that underscores the way guns can escalate arguments into fatal confrontations. Guns also bring the risk of unintentional shootings: one in every 10 school shootings tracked by Everytown since 2013 has been unintentional. Because of the risks they bring, teachers and safety experts oppose allowing guns in schools, and lawmakers should not ignore their concerns.
As legislators prepare to hear testimony on these bills this week, I urge you to cover the serious consequences these bills would have for public safety if enacted into law. More information on HB 1169 is available here.