Federal law establishes a baseline national standard regarding individuals’ eligibility to acquire and possess firearms. Under federal law, people are generally prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms if they have been convicted of a felony or some domestic violence misdemeanors, or if they are subject to certain court orders related to domestic violence or a serious mental condition. However, federal law merely provides a floor, and has notable gaps that allow individuals who have demonstrated significant risk factors for violence or self-harm to legally acquire and possess guns.
North Dakota has incorporated some of the federal prohibitions as state offenses and also enacted some of its own additional state law firearm access restrictions. North Dakota law provides that, subject to certain limited exceptions, a person shall not possess a firearm if he or she:
- Has been convicted of a felony involving violence or intimidation in any state or under federal law, or released from incarceration, parole or probation after being so convicted, during the past ten years;
- Has been convicted of a felony other than a felony involving violence or intimidation in any state or under federal law, committed while using or possessing a firearm, other dangerous weapon, destructive device or explosive, or released from incarceration, parole or probation after being so convicted, during the past five years;
- Has been convicted of a class A misdemeanor involving violence or intimidation in any state or under federal law, committed while using or possessing a firearm, other dangerous weapon, destructive device or explosive. The defendant is prohibited for five years from the date of release from incarceration, parole or probation, whichever is later; or
- Is or has ever been confined or committed to an institution as a person requiring treatment or as a mentally deficient person, unless the person has not suffered from the disability for the previous three years, or has had the petition for diagnosis, confinement, or commitment dismissed.1
For purposes of these provisions, a person is considered to have been “convicted,” upon a verdict of guilty, a plea of guilty or a plea of nolo contendere.2 A person may be considered “convicted” even if:
- The court suspended execution or deferred imposition of the sentence, or placed the person on probation;
- The person’s conviction has been reduced in accordance with state law;3
- Sentence dispositions, sentence reductions, or offense determinations equivalent to this section were imposed or granted by a court, board, agency, or law of another state or the federal government; or
- The person committed the offense when that person was subject to juvenile adjudication or proceedings.4
For information on the background check process used to enforce these provisions, see the North Dakota Background Check Procedures section.
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- N.D. Cent. Code § 62.1-02-01.
- See N.D. Cent. Code §§ 12.1-32-02(9), 12.1-32-07.1.