Oil Patch concealed carry permit numbers up: Sheriff: License worth it for not getting fined or going to jail
If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, then, in the case of weapons in North Dakota, less than $100 paid for a concealed carry permit is worth a $2,000 fine, a year in jail or both.
Well, it's definitely the cheaper of the two.
The number of permits issued in the state, especially in the Oil Patch, has increased over the last seven years. In 2005, there were 2,179 new or renewed permits statewide; that number jumped to 12,614 in 2012.
Stark County has seen its fair share of that increase, reporting that 927 new or renewed permits were issued in 2012, up from 47 in 2005, according to the North Dakota Attorney General's Office.
But not every application is approved.
In 2012, the Stark County Sheriff's Office handled 1,096 applications, Sheriff Clarence Tuhy said.
"Some months we were running right at 100 or a little over 100 in one month," he said. "It seems like right now they're leveling off a little bit."
And the numbers reflect that. The office handled 117 applications in January, 71 in February, 76 in March and 62 in April.
Although a concealed carry permit covers a wide range of weapons, including stun guns, throwing stars and stilettos, Tuhy recommends the permit for anyone who plans to purchase and carry a handgun.
The sheriff said a person can be charged with carrying a concealed weapon "if they don't have (a permit) and (the weapon is) concealed by a jacket or coat or something like that and they're stopped and it's concealed and somebody throws a coat over it and it's concealed."
Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit is considered a Class A misdemeanor in North Dakota, punishable by a $2,000 fine, a year in jail or both.
If a person does not have his or her permit while carrying a concealed weapon, it is the same as not having a permit, said Terry Oestreich, a Dickinson Police Department investigator.
Pellet guns and CO2 guns are considered dangerous weapons under North Dakota Century Code, and carriers need to obtain a concealed weapons license before leaving the house with such an item. But pepper spray is considered an irritant and is therefore not classified as a dangerous weapon. That means no permit is required to carry pepper spray in a pocket or purse.
To obtain a Class 2 concealed carry permit, which provides residents and nonresidents privileges to carry weapons within the state, the applicant must be at least 18, be a U.S. citizen, pass an open book test and must otherwise be able to legally purchase a firearm.
The test administrator can charge up to $50, but many in the Dickinson area charge between $15 and $20, Tuhy said.
A person requesting a permit must turn in the test results, a complete application, two color passport photos, a set of fingerprints and a cashier's check or money order for $45 written to the Attorney General's Office to the law enforcement agency with direct jurisdiction over the applicant.
"If they lived in the city limits, they pick one up and fill out the application and then it would go to the police department for a records check," Tuhy said. "Then it would come to the sheriff's office for a records check. At the police department, the chief would either approve it or disapprove it, then it would come up to me for me to deny or approve."
Tuhy said, if approved, the paperwork is sent to the Attorney General's Office for a records check before submitting its approval or denial.
It takes up to 90 days to process the application.
There is talk of streamlining that process so applications can be sent directly to the Attorney General's Office, Tuhy said.
The process for a Class 1 license is the same, but testing also includes completion of a class, demonstration of familiarity with a weapon and a successful firearms proficiency test, which may cost more for testing. Class 1 license holders also must be 21.
When bringing a firearm into a state that allows reciprocity, the license holder must abide by the laws and rules of that state, Oestreich said. Even if someone has a North Dakota concealed carry license, he or she must follow Montana law while in Montana.
A Class 1 license holder has reciprocity with 37 states, including neighboring Montana and South Dakota, but not Minnesota, which does not give a reason for the lack of reciprocity.
Conceal carry laws can change after a legislative session, so Oestreich urges permit holders to check the attorney general's website after Aug. 1, when changes take effect.
Despite the long paperwork process, fees and changing laws, Tuhy suggests the effort is worth it in the end.
"You're probably figuring you're going to pay anywhere from $20 to $50 for the instructor for the open-book test and then the $45 to the Attorney General's Office," Tuhy said. "You're better off doing that than end up getting caught with a jacket or a coat over the weapon and have it concealed and then get charged."