North Dakota Attorney General gives thumbs up to storing loaded guns in vehicle

State Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem on Thursday released an opinion that changes in North Dakota’s gun laws allow more people to leave guns in their cars.

In a four-page opinion distributed this week, Stenehjem holds that the state’s constitutional carry law allows that an individual’s valid driver’s license or ID card is the equivalent of a valid concealed weapon license and therefore those who hold one can store a loaded firearm in their vehicle.

Under existing state law, it is illegal in North Dakota to carry a loaded firearm in any motor vehicle– to include off-highway vehicles and snowmobiles– under threat of a misdemeanor crime that brings with it a  potential sentence of up to 1 year in jail and $2,000 in fines. However, there are a number of exceptions to include law enforcement and the military, private detectives, security guards, and those with a concealed carry license. As permitless carry is now the law of the land in the Roughrider State, those with a North Dakota driver’s license or ID card should be an exception as well, according to Stenehjem.

He also clarifies in the letter that the identification must be given to law enforcement during a traffic stop and “if the individual does not have the proper identification, the prohibitions against driving with a loaded gun in a vehicle remain in place.”

Gov. Doug Burgum signed House Bill 1169 into law earlier this year, becoming at least the 12th state to make obtaining a weapon license optional when carrying a concealed handgun, however, the question over loaded guns in vehicles for those without a carry license remained, prompting lawmakers to reach out to Stenehjem.