- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 19, 2019

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The Republican-led North Dakota House on Tuesday endorsed several pro-gun measures, including banning gun buyback programs subsidized by taxpayers.

Representatives on Tuesday also passed a measure for the fourth consecutive session that would allow trained staff members to carry concealed firearms in schools, if local school boards approved.

The GOP-led Senate has killed similar legislation before.

Republican Rep. Luke Simons, the primary sponsor of the firearm buyback bill, said the buybacks do nothing to increase public safety and shouldn’t be subsidized by taxpayer money. His proposed ban wouldn’t apply to programs sponsored by private entities.

Simons said he believed the programs threaten gun rights and send a message to children that the “government is buying evil guns to get them off the street.”

Kansas and Indiana passed similar legislation in 2014 that bans local governments from using taxpayer money for gun buyback programs to remove weapons from circulation.

Supporters of the guns-in-schools bill, and others before it, aim them at rural schools without a school resource officer, since it takes law enforcement time to respond to an emergency situation. Education groups have opposed the idea, fearing safety of students and potential lawsuits and higher insurance costs.

Grand Forks Democratic Rep. Matt Eidson, who also is a Marine combat veteran, told fellow House members he couldn’t support the legislation “because I know what it’s like to get shot at. And I know that when that time comes, you don’t always react the way you wished you would have.”

He said “assuming” that an armed teacher or janitor could stop a school shooting is “wishful thinking at best.”

Kathryn Republican Rep. Daniel Johnston, an Army combat veteran, said lawmakers “have an obligation to protect our children,” and arming school staff is a start.

Johnston said having only “well-trained” people who have been in active shooting situations to guard schools “doesn’t hold much water.”

He pointed to the deadly shooting last year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where an armed school security officer did not engage the gunman.

“I saw a well-trained individual stand outside a school in Florida while children were slaughtered,” Johnston said. “There’s not a child in that school or a parent that would care if a janitor came to the aid of their children and saved some lives.”

Those bills will now head to the Senate for consideration.

The House on Tuesday also shot down a bill that would allow authorities to seize guns from a person who a family member or law enforcement believes is a danger.

The bipartisan “red flag” measure would allow a judge to order guns temporarily seized if police or family members believe a person is a danger to themselves or others.

Opponents called it a “gun-grabbing” bill and argued it was a violation of due process. Supporters said it will save lives.

Thirteen others states already have a similar law on the books.

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