A bill that would forbid state law enforcement to assist federal officials in enforcement and prosecution of any new federal gun laws drew sharp testimony Tuesday from those on both sides.
Members of the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on House Bill 1183. The legislation would bar state law enforcement from assisting in the investigation, enforcement or prosecution of any federal gun legislation enacted after Jan 1, 2013.
“I believe our Second Amendment is under attack,” Rep. Roscoe Streyle, R-Minot, said.
Streyle testified that the bill doesn’t keep federal employees from enforcing federal laws, but bars North Dakota law enforcement from participating in enforcement.
Originally the bill had been opposed by some members of law enforcement due to the proposed penalties in the legislation. Section 3 of the original bill would have made a violation of HB1183 a Class A misdemeanor and barred those convicted from serving in public office for five years.
Streyle introduced an amendment that would drop the misdemeanor charge and replace it with a provision for the public to file a civil suit against a department if a violation of HB1183 is committed.
“It isn’t an anti-law enforcement law,” Streyle said. He said after being introduced, it was being portrayed as such. Streyle said his amendment would address concerns brought forward by law enforcement.
An amendment was introduced by Rep. Bette Grande, R-Fargo, to change the penalty to apply to federal employees attempting to enforce laws enacted after Jan. 1. The penalty to federal employees would be a Class C felony.
Grande said the state and federal Constitution are both clear on the right to bear arms.
“There is nothing in the Constitution giving government the power or authority to determine how many bullets a person needs or what type of gun a person needs,” Grande said.
HB1183 protects North Dakota residents from having that right being infringed upon, she said. Grande said many in the public feel there is a need to react to tragedies such as the December mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
“The understandable desire to do something is limited by our authority,” Grande said. “Even if we had the power and authority … it would not be the wise or prudent thing to do.”
Susan Beehler of Mandan was the only person to testify against HB1183.
“I feel appalled by it,” Beehler said.
Beehler then began to read each of President Barack Obama’s 23 executive orders issued to address gun violence into the record.
At the conclusion of each executive order Beehler asked an identical question: “Why wouldn’t we want to have that in North Dakota?”
After finishing her reading of the 16th executive order, she was cut off by Chairman Kim Koppelman, R-West Fargo. Koppelman told Beehler that the morning’s hearings were already running nearly an hour behind and in the interest of time it would be appropriate to leave her remaining testimony with the committee for review.
Beehler concluded by saying that she didn’t understand why anyone would be against providing law enforcement with basic tools to better protect the public.
“This is a knee-jerk reaction,” Beehler said.
No action was taken on HB1183 Tuesday.
Sponsoring HB1183 along with Streyle and Grande are Reps. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, Roger Brabandt, R-Minot, Craig Headland, R-Montpelier, Andrew Maragos, R-Minot, Todd Porter, R-Mandan, Dan Ruby, R-Minot, Nathan Toman, R-Mandan, and Sens. Oley Larsen, R-Minot, Joe Miller, R-Park River, and Margaret Sitte, R-Bismarck.