- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 7, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota’s Senate overwhelmingly endorsed sweeping pro-gun legislation on Tuesday that expands the places where a concealed-carry permit holder can pack a gun, including public parks, political rallies and highway rest stops.

Senators voted 45-2 to approve the legislation that Sen. Kelly Armstrong, R-Dickinson, said “clarifies, simplifies and expands gun rights in North Dakota.”

The measure contains parts of a trio of bills generated in the House, but the Senate added several amendments to the legislation. It now goes back to the House for consideration of the Senate’s amendments.

The Senate also approved a separate House bill that allows college students and university employees to keep firearms in locked vehicles on campus.

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.

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

“Anybody who gets a concealed weapons permit is allowed to carry a gun except in these very limited prohibited public places,” Armstrong said. “Concealed weapons permit holders are not the problem. They’re the good guys. They’re the ones who are the law-abiding citizens.”

The measure also allows hunters to use legally owned short-barreled rifles for hunting. The bill also allows people to carry a single-shot stun gun without obtaining a concealed-carry permit.

Sen. Connie Triplett, D-Grand Forks, said she was concerned about removing the concealed-carry permit requirement for those carrying stun guns.

“They can cause injury or death,” she said.

Armstrong, a Dickinson defense attorney, said using a stun gun inappropriately can still result in criminal charges.

“So be careful. Be responsible,” Armstrong said.

While the legislation relaxes several of the state’s gun laws, it does add snowmobiles to the list of vehicles where carrying a loaded firearm is not permitted.

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