North Dakota House passes legislation exempting some locally made guns from federal regulations
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North Dakota House passes legislation exempting some locally made guns from federal regulations

The North Dakota House of Representatives approved legislation Wednesday that would exempt some locally made guns from federal regulations and laws.

House Bill 1272, which passed with a 69-23 vote, provides that any “personal firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition manufactured commercially or privately in the state and which remains within the state is not subject to federal law or federal regulation, including registration.” This new legislation would still require gun-owners to act in accordance with North Dakota laws, regulations, and registration. HB 1272 is aimed at removing unwanted federal oversight that Congress derives from Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution, also known as the Commerce Clause, which allows Congress to regulate interstate commerce.

House Bill 1272 also states that raw materials and “[g]eneric and insignificant parts that have other manufacturing or consumer product applications” imported from out-of-state and incorporated in the local manufacturing of a firearm, accessory, or ammunition do not subject that firearm or accessory to federal regulations.

Many proponents of the bill view it as a way for North Dakota to assert its own state’s rights and to fight back against the broad federal interpretation of the Commerce Clause. Critics of the bill worry that if this bill is enacted it will lead to an unsafe expansion of guns, including legal manufacturing of unregulated guns. There is also concern that accessories that are banned at the federal level, like bump stocks that allow for semi-automatic weapons to fire as though they were fully automatic, could be legally manufactured in North Dakota and easily transported outside of North Dakota’s borders.

The Legislative Assembly of North Dakota will be looking at expanding other gun laws later this year, including concealed carry laws and the state’s “castle doctrine” statute, proposed to be amended so that retreat is no longer required before using deadly force.

Bill 1272 must now clear the Senate before making its way to the governor to sign.