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North Dakota may let lawmakers take guns in public buildings

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota’s pro-gun House on Tuesday approved allowing lawmakers and other qualified elected officials to carry hidden firearms into government buildings, including the state Capitol, and at public gatherings, including sporting events or even schools.

House members voted 86-5 in favor of the measure. The Senate must approve some House changes before it goes to Republican Gov. Doug Burgum for his signature.

Under the bill, qualified elected officials would have to maintain the same firearm competency requirements as law enforcement officers and hold an enhanced concealed carry permit. They would join municipal and district court judges, retired law enforcement officers and members of the attorney general’s staff as those allowed to pack hidden guns at a publicly owned or operated building. North Dakota law defines a “public gathering” as an athletic or sporting event, a school or school function.

Bismarck Republican Rep. Pat Heinert, who also is the Burleigh County sheriff, called it a “good bill” and urged his colleagues to approve it.

Democratic Rep. Pam Anderson of Fargo was among the few in the Legislature who voted against the measure, which she called scary.

“Think of it — I could be walking around with a gun and that should make everybody nervous,” she said.

Burgum spokesman Mike Nowatzki said the governor does not comment on bills before they reach his desk.

The legislation would take effect on Aug. 1.

It was part of package of gun-rights measures pushed by North Dakota’s Republican-led Legislature this session. Last month, Burgum signed legislation that will allow most adults to carry a hidden firearm without a permit, making North Dakota one of about a dozen “constitutional carry” states.

The Legislature, led by several former educators, did reject a proposal last month for the third consecutive session that would allow trained staff members to carry concealed firearms in schools.

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This story has been corrected to reflect that the Senate must approve some House changes to bill before it heads to the governor.

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