NDGF firearm violation citations remain steadyThe number of loaded-firearm-in-a-vehicle violations cited by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department has remained steady over the years, an NDGF official said Friday.
The number of loaded-firearm-in-a-vehicle violations cited by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department has remained steady over the years, an NDGF official said Friday.
According to information printed in the January North Dakota Outdoors Magazine, which is published by NDGF, between July 1, 2008, and June 30, 2009, there were 117 citations given statewide for a loaded firearm in a vehicle.
Robert Timian, chief game warden with the NDGF, said loaded firearm violations usually are not the “primary” violation.
“Say they are checking some guys at a check station, or they are checking some guys in the field, if they’ve got licenses and how many birds they’ve got in the bag, at the same time as they are sitting there with guns in the vehicle,” Timian said. “For safety measures they will say, ‘OK, will you open the chambers on the gun to make sure everything’s safe?’ Fairly often, things aren’t safe; they’ve got a shell in the chamber.”
Timian said in North Dakota it is legal to have a gun in a vehicle, but it is not legal to have a shell “chambered” or ready to fire.
In South Dakota, it is legal to have a loaded firearm in a vehicle, said Curt Robertson, hunter education coordinator with South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.
“If you’re just driving down a regular road, we’re not talking about national parks or anything like that, there aren’t any parameters,” Robertson said. “As a safety person, I do concern myself with this part a bit. Every year we do have firearms being discharged in vehicles causing injury.”
Timian said the issue is discussed during hunter education programs and said it’s important to remind hunters about the law.
“It’s just a general safety issue, somebody could get accidently shot, you could shoot a hole into your vehicle, or the firearm could be accident discharged when you’re getting in or out of the vehicle and get seriously injured, which has happened,” Timian said.
The typical fine for having a loaded firearm in a vehicle ranges between about $100 to $225, depending on the charge and circumstances, he added.
The numbers have remained relatively stable throughout the years, he added.
“It kind of cycles, but I think it’s pretty steady,” Timian said.
Timian believes hunters that leave a shell in the chamber have a sense of urgency and want to be able to fire off a shot immediately. Although Timian said the time it takes to prepare put a shell in the chamber is insignificant.
“The mindset is ‘I’ve got to have it ready just in case,’” Timian said. “And really, you don’t.”
Robertson said when guns are accidently discharged in vehicles it can occur from when a dog accidently steps on the trigger to someone in a hurry getting out of a vehicle or something like a seatbelt hitting the trigger.
“There is no reason to have a loaded hunting firearm in a vehicle,” he said.
Both officials said safety is a main concern.
“It’s just basic, common safety,” Timian said. “Make sure the gun is unloaded before you put it in the vehicle.”