BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Republican Gov. Doug Burgum has 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 bill signed into law late Thursday will allow law-abiding people 18 and older to forgo background checks and classes that are now required. The legislation only requires someone carrying a concealed weapon to have a valid ID and notify law enforcement of the weapon during instances such as a traffic stop
The legislation comes into force Aug. 1.
Burgum, who is an avid hunter, urged anyone pondering carrying a concealed firearm to enroll in gun safety classes.
"Gun ownership is both a right and a responsibility," the governor said in a statement. "That responsibility begins with individuals and families."
The law sailed through both houses of the GOP-led Legislature, with dissention largely restricted to Democrats.
Supporters said the bill promotes the constitutional right to bear arms and allows protection from criminals. Critics worry it could lead to more shootings as people with less training would be carrying weapons.
Carrying a hidden firearm without a permit is currently a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,500. Some 48,700 of North Dakota's 759,000 residents have concealed carry permits.
House Majority Leader Al Carlson, a Fargo Republican, called the approved legislation "a great day for the Second Amendment."
Carlson and others in the gun-friendly red state say they don't expect the number of people packing hidden firearms to spike.
"There will not be people with bandoleros shooting everyone on Main Street," Carlson said Friday.
The bill was among a package of gun-rights measures being considered this session, including allowing people with concealed carry permits to have guns in churches, schools and other public places. It's unclear if Burgum will also sign those into law.
North Dakota residents already can get a concealed carry permit by completing an hour-long class and passing an open-book test. The classes cost about $50. An enhanced license, that allows reciprocity with other states, requires firearms training and the open-book test.
The South Dakota Legislature this month approved a similar measure but GOP Gov. Dennis Daugaard vetoed it, saying his state's gun laws are already reasonable.