- Associated Press - Thursday, March 23, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Siding with the Second Amendment rights of North Dakota citizens’ over others’ concerns about safety, Republican Gov. Doug Burgum late Thursday signed legislation that would allow most adults to carry a hidden firearm without a permit.

The legislation means North Dakota will become one of about a dozen so-called “constitutional carry” states on Aug. 1. The bill would allow law-abiding people 18 and older to forgo background checks and classes that are now required. The legislation only requires someone carrying a concealed weapon to have a valid ID and notify law enforcement of the weapon during instances such as a traffic stop.

In a statement Thursday night, Burgum urged anyone pondering carrying a concealed firearm to enroll in gun safety classes.

“Gun ownership is both a right and a responsibility,” the governor said. “That responsibility begins with individuals and families.”

The law had sailed through both houses of the GOP-led Legislature, with dissention largely among Democrats.

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

Carrying a hidden firearm without a permit at present is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,500.

The bill was among a package of gun-rights measures being considered this session, including allowing people with concealed carry permits to have guns in churches, schools and other public places. It’s unclear if Burgum, an avid hunter, would also sign those into law.

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.

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

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