Local gun shop calls proposed ND gun law 'very misled'

FARGO, N.D. (KVLY) North Dakota law makers have drafted a new bill that could give gun salesmen less control—Meaning anyone can walk into a gun store and purchase a gun if they have a clean background.

If you walked in to Duane's Gun Repair and were in the market for a new firearm, the next steps include some paperwork and a background check with the FBI. Officials will then tell gun salesman if you're in the clear or not, but then the real sale decision lays in retailer's hands.

"If we believe it may be a straw purchase, we have the option as the dealer to instantly decline it," Joshua Spooner explained.

By straw purchase, Spooner means that the gun is bought by one person for someone else who legally isn't allowed to buy it themselves.

However, North Dakota lawmakers are trying to take that option away, with a new bill stating that customers can't be turned down if they legally are able to buy firearms.

"It seems like a very misled legislation at best," Spooner said.

But Rep. Ben Koppelman tells Valley News Live that the bill's intent is so retailers, like Dick's Sporting Goods, can't age discriminate against gun sales. Dick's Sporting Goods' current policy states no one under 21 is allowed to buy any firearms.

"The problem is, you internally can have that as a policy. I mean, it still is a somewhat free country. That's your choice, but to try and make it as a law, it's in complete contradiction to federal law," Spooner said.

Koppelman says when retailers use their own judgement to decide when customers get equal treatment, that's discrimination. However, Spooner says as long gun salesman are liable, they have every right to say no.

"Even if as a car dealer, and I sell a car to somebody that I think may take and drive that car down the road irresponsibly and speed, you're not going to jail as the car dealer because you sold them that car! But as a firearm license you are the one taking all the responsibility for all of your sales unfortunately," Spooner said.

Lawmakers say the bill is still in the very early stages in the North Dakota House.