Here's the NRA's grade for every North Dakota lawmaker
Forum News Service is publishing the ratings given by the National Rifle Association to North Dakota lawmakers so residents can see how their representatives in Bismarck and Washington have voted on gun legislation.
BISMARCK — A school shooting that left 19 children and two teachers dead in Texas last week has renewed cries from gun control advocates to toughen federal and state firearm regulations.
Members of Congress have once again begun talks in Washington to tighten gun laws, but state legislators wield considerable authority over firearm rules at a local level.
North Dakota has some of the nation’s least stringent gun laws, and legislators have recently trended toward loosening restrictions on buying, carrying and using guns.
Last year, the Republican-dominated Legislature and Gov. Doug Burgum approved bills that lowered the legal bar for using deadly force in self-defense , expanded concealed carry of guns and blocked state and local governments from closing or limiting the hours of gun ranges and stores.
National Rifle Association lobbyist Brian Gosch sat at a table with Burgum and a handful of lawmakers as the governor signed pro-gun rights legislation into law in April 2021.
Each election, the NRA issues letter grades to candidates who are running for political office. The rankings are based on the person's public statements about gun legislation, past voting record and an NRA questionnaire, according to Vote Smart, a nonpartisan website that compiles data about lawmakers in the U.S.
An "A-plus" grade means an official is highly unlikely to vote for gun restrictions, while an "F" grade indicates the person supports gun control.
The Forum has decided to publish the NRA ratings given to North Dakota lawmakers so residents can see how their representatives in Bismarck and Washington have voted on gun legislation.
Rep. Ben Koppelman, a West Fargo Republican with an "A-plus" rating from the NRA, said he’s grieved for the families who lost children in the Texas shooting, but he thinks it would be “rather silly” to limit Americans’ Second Amendment rights because of the regretful actions of rogue shooters.
Koppelman, who sponsored several of the pro-gun bills last year, said gun control measures would only make it harder for law-abiding citizens to buy firearms, opening the door for bad actors to commit crimes with weapons they may have obtained illegally.
He added that “allowing law-abiding citizens to be armed at the ready is the best way to deter crime” when police officers or security guards are not around.
Rep. Karla Rose Hanson, D-Fargo, has voted against many pro-gun proposals and said she’s proud of her “F-minus" rating from the NRA.
Hanson said she would support legislation to impose universal background checks on those attempting to buy guns and to create a system for flagging those at a high risk of committing violence against themselves or others.
She added that “certain weapons that have the capability of killing a mass number of people have no place in public spaces.”