North Dakota House shoots down bills to allow guns in bars, public buildings, colleges
Proposals to expand the right to carry weapons at schools, colleges, bars and public buildings faced resistance in the Republican-dominated chamber.
BISMARCK — North Dakota lawmakers have made a habit of revisiting an old question when they meet for a legislative session every two years: Who can have guns, and where can they carry them?
The state House of Representatives largely held off on answering the question Monday, Feb. 20, and instead advanced a proposed legislative study that would look into where concealed weapons can or should be restricted. The study moves onto the Senate.
The Legislature approved a bill in 2017 to allow law-abiding adult residents to carry concealed guns in most public places without a permit, but proposals to expand that right to schools, colleges, bars and public buildings faced resistance in the Republican-dominated chamber Monday.
Representatives voted to kill:
- House Bill 1483, which would have permitted the possession of guns in public buildings, other than schools, federal facilities and courthouses. The legislation sponsored by Rep. Ben Koppelman, R-West Fargo, also would have allowed guns to be carried in bars.
- House Bill 1404, which would have effectively authorized the concealed carry of guns on public university and college campuses. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Matt Heilman, R-Bismarck.
- House Bill 1194, which would have allowed honorably discharged military veterans to carry hidden guns in schools, churches and public buildings. The proposal was brought by Rep. Bill Tveit, R-Hazen.
- House Bill 1401, backed by Heilman, which would have barred local governments from adopting “red flag laws” that restrict gun access for people who police deem a threat to themselves or others.
Education administrators and police officers expressed worries to lawmakers last month that allowing nearly any adult to carry hidden weapons into bars, schools and public buildings would increase the risk of gun-related violence.
Proponents of eliminating the restrictions said more firearms would make students and employees safer while allowing people to protect themselves.
Besides the proposed study, the House unanimously approved Koppelman’s House Bill 1339, which would allow residents of other states to carry a concealed gun without a permit in North Dakota.
The chamber also passed Koppelman’s House Bill 1340, which would bar cities and counties from passing zoning laws to restrict the sale of guns. The legislation aims to void a Fargo city ordinance that prohibits the home sale of guns.
The National Rifle Association backed both proposals, which will move onto the Senate next month.
Koppelman argued that expanding concealed carry rights in the state was necessary to comply with a 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision that said only gun restrictions with longstanding traditions should be upheld by the courts.
Rep. Pat Heinert, a Bismarck Republican and former Burleigh County sheriff, said a legislative study performed before the 2025 session would allow lawmakers to examine which restrictions should come off the books.