We have received inquiries related to proposed legislation in the North Dakota House related to concealed firearms and churches. Our synod attorney, Murray Sagsveen has provided the following summary of bills with links to the text of the proposed bills for information.
House Bill 1157 – This bill would allow any elected public official who has a concealed weapons permit to carry a concealed firearm in a publicly owned or operated building (i.e., the bill does not address churches). See http://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/64-2015/documents/15-0461-02000.pdf?20150213133500. However, the bill has not been reported out of the House committee, so amendments are still possible.
House Bill 1195 – This bill would allow a person who has a concealed weapons permit to carry a concealed firearm in public and private schools (i.e. church schools). See http://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/64-2015/documents/15-0393-04000.pdf?20150213134114. The bill was approved by the House 53-38, so hearings will be scheduled in the Senate in early March.
House Bill 1241 – State law currently allows a person who has a concealed weapons permit to carry a concealed firearm in a church if authorized by the pastor or church council. This bill would delete the requirement for authorization by the pastor or church council (i.e., a person with a concealed weapons permit may carry a concealed firearm in any church at any time). See http://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/64-2015/documents/15-0519-03000.pdf?20150213134622. A church could likely prohibit its members and visitors from carrying concealed weapons in church, and I can further research that issue. This bill has not been reported out of committee yet.
House Bill 1450 – This bill amends the state law governing concealed weapons, but does not change the current law concerning concealed firearms in churches. This bill has not been reported out of committee, so I’m continuing to watch it.
Pastors can testify in legislative committees and can lobby for or against a bill. If lobbying on behalf of a congregation (e.g., the church council or congregation at an annual meeting has passed a resolution, and the pastor has been asked to testify, the pastor must register as a lobbyist with the ND Secretary of State). However, if the pastor is testifying or lobbying as an individual, the pastor need not register.
Murray G. Sagsveen, Synod Attorney