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Fargo lawmaker wants to amend ND law and ban violent felons from owning guns

FARGO -- A Republican Fargo lawmaker wants to amend North Dakota law and permanently ban violent felons from owning guns. Right now, state law restores firearms rights 10 years after a sentence is served. State Rep. Blair Thoreson says he's a str...

FARGO -- A Republican Fargo lawmaker wants to amend North Dakota law and permanently ban violent felons from owning guns.

Right now, state law restores firearms rights 10 years after a sentence is served.

State Rep. Blair Thoreson says he's a strict defender of the Second Amendment, but he says the fatal shooting of Officer Jason Moszer on Feb. 10 proves some people should not be entitled to gun privileges.

"It makes people ask questions, was something done that could have prevented this?" said Thoreson.

Thoreson heard many of those questions from his constituents in District 44, which includes the neighborhood where Marcus Schumacher allegedly opened fire and killed Moszer.

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A Grand Forks court convicted Schumacher of negligent homicide in 1988, leading some to question how he could legally own the firearms he used during the 11-hour police standoff.

"I think we really need to work on making sure guns stay out of people's hands that shouldn't have them," said Leah Hanson, a Fargo resident.

Some say giving gun rights back to felons should depend on the crime.

"After 10 years, if you're convicted of a violent crime then you should never be given anything. If you're white-collar and never killed nobody, well then yeah," said Robert Geigle, a Fargo resident.

The felon gun rights law passed almost unanimously in 2011, but Thoreson recalls voting against it.

"Looking back now, perhaps we could have done something differently. And that's what I'm looking to do now -- is to bring together people from both sides of the aisle to work on this and try to correct that," said Thoreson.

Now, armed with constituents' concerns, Thoreson is pushing to amend the law.

The card-carrying NRA member makes it clear the ban would only apply to violent criminals.

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"This is about people who are violent felons, who've committed crimes against other people, not being able to do it again," said Thoreson.

Right now, Thoreson and legislative council are researching and drafting the bill.

Thoreson is seeking re-election this year, and plans to introduce it next session so it could be enacted by 2017.

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