- Associated Press - Thursday, April 9, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota’s Republican-led Legislature approved pro-gun legislation Thursday that expands the places where a concealed-carry permit holder can pack a gun.

House members approved the legislation 74-19, two days after the state Senate overwhelmingly endorsed it. The measure now heads to GOP Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who is expected to sign it into law.

North Dakota law currently forbids firearms or other dangerous weapons at public parks, political functions and musical concerts. Violation of the law is a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a maximum punishment of 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine.

The measure removes those restrictions and also allows people with concealed-carry permits to have firearms at public rest areas, restrooms and liquor stores.

Some Democrats were critical of the legislation, saying it takes away control from local communities and could make attending a public park or music concert less safe.

“If somebody wants to carry a concealed weapon to feel like John Wayne … because they see a bogeyman behind every tree, that’s fine,” said Bill Amerman, D-Foreman. “But I have a little trouble when it comes to the concerts and to the parks.”

Amerman, who served as an infantryman in Vietnam, said a concealed-carry permit could be obtained by terrorists or someone who is suicidal and wants to kill others.

“There might be other people with concealed weapons there,” Amerman said. “But that’s not going to help, because the damage would be done.”

“We want the God-fearing honest people of our state to be able to have the right to protect themselves wherever they’re at,” said Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo.

Firearms still cannot be legally carried at some places, including sporting events, schools, public buildings and churches, unless a church gives permission.

The measure also allows hunters to use legally owned short-barreled rifles for hunting. The bill also allows concealed-carry permit holders to have a gun in liquor stores.

The bill also allows people to carry a single-shot electronic stun gun without having to obtain a concealed-carry permit.

A separate bill that allows college students and university employees to keep firearms in locked vehicles on campus also was approved Thursday and heads to the governor for his signature.

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