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Rep. Dwight Kiefert, Valley City, Published February 01 2013

Letters: Committee needs idea of how ND voters view gun legislation

I do not want guns in our schools, but the question I ask our opponents is “What’s your answer?” As taxpayers, do we want to spend $75 million per year to put a law officer in every school in North Dakota?

The real problem is mental illness. How much money do the taxpayers want to spend to deal with this problem? The occurrence of mental illness seems to be skyrocketing. Are we going to try to identify the violently mentally ill and incarcerate them or put them in an institution? We are open to direction for the public’s solution.

My bill 1215 simply gives the schools the right to develop their own plan of defense that would include hiring a retired police officer, retired military, or whomever they wish. They have the right to train their staff, including teachers, to defend their schools and allow whomever to take the conceal and carry class and practice this on the school grounds. They can develop a plan with their local authorities so everyone at the school and enforcement would be able to react collectively to a situation.

My bill also gives them the right to have a closed meeting concerning their defense plans. They can allow whomever they wish, but I felt that keeping the final plans from the general public would be in the best interests of the school, especially if they decided not to defend their school. Why tell a perpetrator that the school is defenseless or who in fact will be armed?

I am quite sure that there will be changes to our gun laws; the best way to approach the decision makers is to directly email the Judicial Committee members. I have attached their names; you can get their email address at the ND.gov website. They have the hearings and amendments, and will try to come up with the best plan and then present it to the Legislature for a vote.

HB 1215 also leaves the gun-free zone intact for the schools. This would prevent parents from conceal and carry onto the school grounds where they might be perceived as a perpetrator.

Members of the committee: Rep. Kim Koppelman. R-West Fargo; Rep. Lawrence R. Klemin,

R-Bismarck; Rep. Randy Boehning, R-Fargo; Rep. Roger Brabandt, R-Minot; Rep. Lois Delmore, D-Grand Forks; Rep. Ben W. Hanson, D-West Fargo; Rep. Kathy Hogan, D-Fargo; Rep. Karen Karls, R-Bismarck; Rep. William E. Kretschmar,

R-Venturia; Rep. Diane Larson, R-Bismarck; Rep. Andrew G. Maragos,

R-Minot; Rep. Gary Paur,

R-Gilby; Rep. Vicky Steiner, R-Dickinson, Rep. Nathan Toman, R-Mandan.

Kiefert, R-Valley City, is in his first House term from District 34.