- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 21, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The North Dakota Legislature has voted to allow most adults to carry a concealed firearm without a permit, but it’s not clear whether the governor will support the move.

The Senate approved the measure 34-13 on Tuesday and the House passed it last month. It would allow people 18 and older to forgo background checks and classes that are now required.

Supporters say the bill promotes constitutional rights and allows protection from criminals. Critics worry it could lead to more shootings as people with less training would be carrying weapons.

Approval of the bill in both the Senate and House generally fell along party lines in the Republican-led Legislature. GOP Gov. Doug Burgum hasn’t said whether he would support the measure and sign it into law.

“He hasn’t seen the bill and won’t make a decision until he receives it,” said Mike Nowatzki, a Burgum spokesman.

Sen. Kelly Armstrong, a Republican from Dickinson, said the measure allows law-abiding citizens to exercise their constitutional right to carry a gun.

“Anyone legally allowed to carry a gun, can carry a gun,” Armstrong said.

Carrying a hidden firearm without a permit is now a misdemeanor in North Dakota that’s punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,500. Under the measure, someone carrying a concealed weapon would be required to have a valid ID and notify law enforcement of the weapon in incidents such as a traffic stop.

The number of concealed carry permits in North Dakota has more than doubled in the past five years, to 48,700.

North Dakota residents already can get a concealed carry permit by completing an hour-long class and passing an open-book test. The classes cost about $50. An enhanced license, that allows reciprocity with other states, requires firearms training and the open-book test.

Democratic Sen. Carolyn Nelson, of Fargo, said it already is simple to acquire a permit to carry a concealed weapon, and that the measure was not needed.

“If you can read, you can pass the test,” she said. “I’m even more scared than I am now.”

About a dozen states already have similar laws. The South Dakota Legislature this month approved a similar measure but GOP Gov. Dennis Daugaard vetoed it, saying his state’s gun laws are reasonable.

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