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Rep. Rick Becker R-Bismarck, listens to testimony in the House Transportation Committee in late January.

A lawmaker involved in refining a package of gun legislative proposals this week believes the state is closer than ever to successfully pushing through concealed carry in schools.

An amended version of House Bill 1310, which would permit schools to allow trained staff to have a concealed carry firearm was given a “do pass” recommendation Friday by a 10-2 vote.

Bills similar to HB1310 have passed the House in past sessions but have been killed in the Senate.

“I think we have a pretty good bill,” R-Chuck Damschen, R-Hampden, said.

A series of amendments were approved for HB1310. These include limiting the number of schools that can apply for having a trained individual conceal carry to 10. Participating schools would have to report to the Department of Public Instruction, which in turn would report to lawmakers.

Those trained would need to have 80 hours of training equivalent to what is done in South Dakota with a school sentinel law it has in place.

Provisions relating to liability were removed, and schools would need to provide post-traumatic stress disorder programming for the aftermath of any potential incident.

Supporters of HB1310 have said it’s aimed at providing an option for rural schools without a school resource officer for protection since the enforcement response time can be very lengthy.

A large majority of school officials as well as all education organizations that testified on HB1310 were opposed. Liability was a key concern along with the possibility of a person authorized to carry making a situation worse, not better, if an incident were to occur.

Damschen said the idea is to take small steps by limiting the number of schools, adding that, “if we can get a couple districts and get some facts” over the next two years, it could lead to improvements and expansion of such a program.

House Bill 1169 was passed out of committee on Thursday by a 12-0 vote. It would allow people over the age of 21 to carry without a permit if not otherwise prohibited by law.

Primary bill sponsor Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, says, since the state already is an open-carry state, the bill shouldn’t be a concern. Several states already have constitutional carry and North Dakota is one of a few weighing it this year.

HB1169 was also cleaned up with multiple amendments.

Ensuring people eligible for constitutional carry are North Dakota residents and have a state-issued identification was passed.

A “duty to inform” amendment also passed. Duty to inform requires those with a concealed firearm to immediately inform law enforcement of their status when pulled over or approached by an officer on the street.

The bills, along with several other pieces of gun legislation, will be up for House floor votes early next week.

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(Reach Nick Smith at 701-250-8255 or 701-223-8482 or at nick.smith@bismarcktribune.com.)

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