Residents of North Dakota are huge believers in gun rights and their right to bear arms. As a North Dakota resident, our state generally does allow you to possess weapons open and concealed; however, there are guidelines which must be adhered to which may prevent you from possessing a weapon or firearm.
People who are prohibited from possessing firearms in North Dakota:
- If you have been convicted of a felony offense involving violence or intimidation in North Dakota, or any other jurisdiction, for committing the crimes of homicide, manslaughter, assaults, reckless endangerment, terrorizing, menacing, coercion, harassment, stalking, hazing, offenses against unborn children, kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, felonious restraint, removal of a child from the state in violation of a custody decree, sex offenses, robbery, damaging property or public services, animal research facility damage, theft, forgery, counterfeiting, and riot. [This is not an inclusive list of qualifying offenses. To determine if a conviction qualifies, you must contact a private attorney.] These crimes would prevent you from owning or possessing a firearm for 10 years after the date of conviction or the date of release from incarceration, parole, or probation, whichever is latest. If you violate this section, you would be charged with a class C Felony.
- If you have been convicted anywhere of a felony offense outside of the crimes listed above, or for a class A misdemeanor offense involving violence or intimidation in North Dakota, or any other jurisdiction, for committing the crimes listed above, or an equivalent offense of another jurisdiction and the offense was committed while using or possessing a firearm, a dangerous weapon, explosive, or destructive device. [The list above is not an inclusive list of qualifying offenses. To determine if a conviction qualifies, you must contact a private attorney.] This would prevent you from owning or possession a firearm for 5 years after the date of conviction or the date of release from incarceration, parole, or probation, whichever is latest. If you violate this section, you would be charged with a class C Felony.
- If you are mentally ill or are a chemically dependent person who is or have even been diagnosed and confined or committed to a hospital, or other institution, by a court, for involuntary treatment; you would be prevented from purchasing a firearm, having one in your possession, or under your control. This does not apply if you have not suffered from the disability for the previous 3 years or have successfully petitioned for relief. If you violate this section, you would be charged with a class A Misdemeanor.
- If you are under the age of 18 may not possess a gun, except under the supervision of an adult for purposes of firearm safety training, target shooting, or hunting. If you violate this section, you would be charged with a class A Misdemeanor. If you are a parent or guardian and do not directly observe the actions of a minor under the age of 15, who then carries or uses a loaded firearm in public, you would be charged with a class B Misdemeanor.
- You also may be prohibited from possessing a firearm if you have been dishonorably discharged from the military, renounced U.S. citizenship, are an illegal alien, if you have a protection order against you, or if you are a fugitive from justice.
This is not an inclusive list of individuals who would be prohibited from possessing a firearm in North Dakota. To determine of you are eligible to possess a firearm in North Dakota, please contact a private attorney who is licensed to practice law in the State of North Dakota.
North Dakota also limits the places people can go, within the State, with your firearm or a dangerous weapon. A dangerous weapon includes any switchblade, gravity knife, machete, scimitar, stiletto, sword, dagger, knife with a blade of 5” or more; any throwing star, nunchaku, or other martial arts weapon; any billy, blackjack, sap, bludgeon, cudgel, metal knuckles, or sand club; any slungshot; any bow and arrow, crossbow, or spear; any weapon that will expel, or is readily capable of expelling, a projectile by the action of a spring, compressed air, or compressed gas, including any such weapon, loaded or unloaded, commonly referred to as a BB gun, air rifle, or CO2 gun; and any projector of a bomb or any object containing or capable of producing and emitting any noxious liquid, gas, or substance.
Locations which limit the possession of a firearm or dangerous weapon:
- You may not possess a firearm or dangerous weapon in a liquor store, bar, or gaming site where bingo is the primary gaming activity. This does not apply if you are the owner or employee of the establishment, a law enforcement officer, or private security personnel on duty at the establishment. This does not apply to the restaurant side of an establishment if individuals under the age of 21 are allowed there [for example: it does not apply to the restaurant area of Applebee’s, but does apply in the bar area of Applebee’s]. If you violate this section, you would be charged with a class A Misdemeanor.
- You may not possess a firearm or dangerous weapon at an athletic or sporting event, a school, church (exception below), or a publicly owned or operated building (exceptions below). This does not apply to the following:
- State or federal parks;
- Publicly owned or operated rest area or restroom;
- Law enforcement officers, or correctional officers who are allowed to carry a firearm or dangerous weapon for specific purposes;
- A member of the armed forces when on duty;
- A competitor for an organized sport shooting event, or with blanks for a theatrical event;
- Gun or antique show;
- For a hunter safety class;
- Private and public security personnel while on duty;
- Court personnel if they maintain the same level of firearms proficiency as required by the peace officer standards and training board for law enforcement officers, and hold a certificate of compliance;
- Storage of a firearm or dangerous weapon in a building that is owned or managed by the state or a political subdivision if you reside in the building, the storage is inside your assigned residential unit, and the storage has been consented to by the state; and
- You may carry a dangerous weapon in a church building or other place of worship if you hold a valid concealed weapons permit. You must also obtain the approval of the primary religious leader of the church in which you wish to carry.
If you violate this section, you would be charged with a class B Misdemeanor.
- You may not carry a loaded firearm in or on any motor vehicle, including an off-highway vehicle or snowmobile. This does not apply to the following:
- A member of the armed forces when on duty;
- A law enforcement officer;
- An individual in the field engaged in the lawful hunting or trapping of non-game species or fur-bearing animals [it is a non-criminal offense, which carries a $25 fine, if you carry a loaded firearm while hunting big or small game];
- A security guard or private investigator licensed to carry firearms;
- An individual who possesses a valid special permit issued by the director of the Game and Fish Department; and
- An individual who possesses a valid concealed weapons permit can carry a loaded handgun, rifle, or shotgun if they are not in the field hunting or trapping.
If you violate this section, you would be charged with a class B Misdemeanor.
A firearm or dangerous weapon is concealed if you carry it in a manner in which others would not be able to easily see it. There is no requirement that it be completely invisible to see to be considered concealed. A firearm or dangerous weapon in considered concealed if it is not secured, is worn under clothing, carried in a bundle that is held or carried by you, transported in a vehicle and easily available to you including beneath your seat or in the glove compartment. A firearm or dangerous weapon is not concealed if it is:
- Carried in a belt holster which is partially or completely visible, or carried in a case designed to carry a firearm or dangerous weapon and is partially or completely visible;
- Locked in a closed trunk or luggage compartment of a motor vehicle;
- Carried in the field while lawfully engaged in hunting, trapping, or target shooting, whether visible or not;
- Carried unloaded by anyone allowed by law, in a secure wrapper, to and from your home if you need to take it for repairs, your place of business, or where you purchased it from; and
- A bow and arrow, rifle, shotgun, unloaded handgun, or a weapon that will expel or is readily capable of expelling a projectile by the action of a spring, compressed air, or compressed gas like a BB gun, air rifle, or CO2 gun when carried in a motor vehicle.
North Dakota law has always been designed so that no one, other than law enforcement officers, could carry a concealed firearm or dangerous weapon unless you were licensed or exempt. On August 1, 2017, North Dakota passed legislation which allowed individuals to carry a firearm concealed without a license. The requirements are that you must not be prohibited from possessing a firearm, must be at least 18 years old, and you must have a valid North Dakota driver’s license or non-driver identification card from the DOT for at least one year. If you carry concealed without a license, you must carry your North Dakota driver’s license or ID card with you (or have immediate access to a digital image) and if you have contact with law enforcement, you must inform them you are in possession of a firearm. This also applies if you are carrying concealed with a concealed license; you must produce your driver’s license to law enforcement, and failure to produce is evidence that you are illegally carrying concealed.
People are questioning whether or not you can carry a loaded weapon concealed after the new law was enacted on August 1, 2017. Members of the legislative committee have indicated it was their clear intent to allow that; however, the statute which involves carrying a loaded weapon in a vehicle was not updated to correspond those wishes. As a result, there has been confusion in the law enforcement and legal community on how this should be treated. Until the law has been clarified, you should follow firearm safety and never carry a loaded weapon in a vehicle. This is not a risk worth taking until the law has been made clear – this is a legal battle which will not be won by you in your vehicle with a loaded weapon.
If you violate this section, you would be charged with a class A Misdemeanor.
Concealed Weapons License – Class 1 and Class 2
There are two types of concealed weapons licenses; Class 1 and Class 2. The only difference between the two licenses is a Class 1 license allows reciprocity in more states than a Class 2 license. The minimum age to obtain a license for a Class 1 is 21, and for a Class 2 is 18. If you have been convicted of an alcohol-related offense in the past 10 years, you are not eligible for a Class 1 license (all applicants will undergo a background check). For both licenses, you must be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident, legally able to possess a firearm or dangerous weapon, be a North Dakota resident (or on FT active military duty stationed in ND, or a resident of a state that has reciprocity in ND and possess a concealed weapons license in their home state), and successfully complete the training and testing requirements. Once you obtain a license to carry concealed, you may carry a concealed firearm or dangerous weapon in North Dakota or another state which grants reciprocity under the class of license you obtain (subject to the provisions of that state’s laws or any separate licenses they may require). For a list of states which grant reciprocity to the North Dakota Class 1 and Class 2 licenses, see the North Dakota Attorney General’s website.
This is meant for general information purposes only. There any many nuances to the law when it comes to determining a “conviction” and who qualifies to possess a firearm. You should consult with an independent attorney with specific questions to your case or regarding your past convictions. This information does not create an attorney-client relationship, and the information given is not meant for the purposes of legal advice.