Republican governor Doug Burgum signed a bill legalizing permitless gun carry in North Dakota on Friday.
The bill allows anyone over the age of 21 who can otherwise possess a firearm to carry it concealed on their person without having to obtain a permit beforehand. It does require that anyone legally carrying a firearm also carry a valid ID and inform police that they are carrying if they are stopped. The state's permitting process will remain in place for those who want to obtain one for carry in other states that have reciprocity agreements requiring a physical permit.
North Dakota's new law comes on the heels of New Hampshire's adoption of permitless carry in February. A dozen states have now passed some form of permitless carry in the last decade, 13 have adopted the policy since 2003. Including Vermont, which never restricted gun carry, there are now a total of 14 states that have passed some form of permitless carry.
Permitless carry, often called constitutional carry by proponents, remains the second most popular form of gun-carry policy in America. Eight states still have policies that allow government officials to deny citizens gun-carry permits regardless of whether they obtain the required training and pass a background check (currently the least popular policy). Another 28 states have policies requiring government officials to issue permits to citizens if they obtain the required training and pass a background check (currently the most popular policy).
The trend of states adopting permitless carry seems poised to continue in the coming years. The policy has been gaining favor among Republican lawmakers and gun-rights activists. Since Republicans control every branch of government in 25 states, many of which have not adopted permitless carry yet, activists are confident more states will soon be on board.
Gun-rights activists cheered the new North Dakota law as a step to leveling the playing field between the law-abiding and criminals.
"This new law gives North Dakota's law-abiding citizens greater freedom to defend themselves and their families," Chris Cox, head of the National Rifle Association's lobbying arm, said in a statement. "Criminals carry guns, regardless of the laws. Permitless carry simply puts law-abiding gun owners on equal footing.
"This new law gives law-abiding North Dakotans greater flexibility to defend themselves, their homes, and their families."