North Dakota law includes multiple statutes that seek to provide civil immunity to firearm industry actors, subject to certain exceptions:
First, North Dakota law provides that a firearm manufacturer, distributor, or seller who lawfully manufactures, distributes, or sells a firearm is not liable to any person or to the estate, successor, or survivor of any person for any injury suffered, including wrongful death and property damage, because of the use of a firearm by another.1
In addition, North Dakota law provides that an association of federally licensed firearm manufacturers, importers, or dealers “is not liable to any person or to the estate, a successor, or survivor of any person for any injury suffered, including wrongful death and property damage, because of the use of a firearm sold or manufactured by any licensee who is a member of the association.”2
However, these laws explicitly do not immunize firearms manufacturers, distributors, sellers, and importers from claims for relief for deceit, breach of contract, express or implied warranty, or for injury resulting from failure of a firearm to operate in a normal or usual manner due to defects or negligence in design or manufacture.3 (The potential of a firearm to cause serious injury, damage, or death as a result of normal function does not constitute a defective condition of the product).4 A firearm also may not be deemed defective on the basis of its potential to cause serious injury, damage, or death when discharged.5 In addition, North Dakota law does not immunize firearms manufacturers, distributors, sellers, and importers from claims for relief arising from the unlawful sale or transfer of a firearm or an instance when the transferor knew or should have known that the recipient would engage in the unlawful sale or transfer of the firearm or would use or purposely allow the use of the firearm in an unlawful, negligent, or improper fashion.6
North Dakota enacted another separate immunity law in 2021, which provides simply that a “firearm or ammunition manufacturer, importer, or dealer may not be held civilly liable for any physical or emotional injury, physical damage, or death as a third party for the acts of another person.”7
A separate North Dakota law governing civil actions against sport shooting ranges also provides, in part:
“If a sport shooting range has been in operation for one year since the date on which it began operation as a sport shooting range, it does not become a public or private nuisance as a result of changed conditions in or around the locality of the sport shooting range…. If a sport shooting range remains in compliance with noise control or nuisance abatement rules or ordinances in effect on the date on which it commenced operation, it is not subject to a civil or criminal action resulting from or relating to noise generated by the operation of the sport shooting range…. A person who acquires title to real property that is adversely affected by the operation of a permanently located and improved sport shooting range constructed and initially operated before that person acquired title to the property adversely affected may not maintain a civil action on the basis of noise or noise pollution against the person who owns or operates the sport shooting range.”8
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- N.D. Cent. Code § 32-03-54(2).
- N.D. Cent. Code § 32-03-54(3).
- N.D. Cent. Code § 32-03-54(4).
- N.D. Cent. Code § 32-03-54(4).
- See 2021 ND HB 1396 (creating N.D. Cent. Code § 28-01.3-10, effective August 1, 2021).
- N.D. Cent. Code § 42-01-01(1).