North Dakota delegates weigh in on gun laws after Texas shooting

North Dakota's all-Republican congressional delegation acknowledged the "evil" and heartbreaking nature of the massacre and stated a willingness to look into reinforcing gun laws without infringing on the Second Amendment rights of Americans.

cramer hoeven armstrong.jpeg
North Dakota's all-Republican Congressional delegation is pictured (from left): Sen. Kevin Cramer, Sen. John Hoeven and Rep. Kelly Armstrong.
Submitted photos
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BISMARCK — A devastating shooting at an elementary school has once again evoked pleas from gun control advocates to tighten federal laws governing the sale and possession of firearms.

Authorities believe a lone gunman murdered 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, May 24. Salvador Ramos, the 18-year-old suspect killed by police after the attack, was born in North Dakota, according to a Texas state senator.

North Dakota's all-Republican congressional delegation acknowledged the "evil" and heartbreaking nature of the massacre and stated a willingness to look into reinforcing gun laws without infringing on the Second Amendment rights of Americans.

Sen. John Hoeven said in a statement "we need to find ways to enforce our laws to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and people who are mentally ill" while protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.

The second-term senator did not offer specific proposals for reforming gun regulations or preventing shootings, but he said the country needs to "find ways to harden our schools, which should be a local, state and federal priority, to prevent this type of terrible incident in the future.”


A spokeswoman for Sen. Kevin Cramer did not respond with a statement from the senator Wednesday afternoon, but Cramer told the Sacramento Bee he wouldn't immediately dismiss a proposal to raise the age for legally purchasing an assault rifle from 18 to 21.

Cramer also told Axios he would talk to a Republican colleague about "red flag" legislation that would allow police to temporarily take guns away from those at a high risk of violence against themselves or others. However, the senator stressed the right to protect oneself is fundamental and should be upheld.

Rep. Kelly Armstrong said it's appropriate to "have a conversation" about reinforcing existing gun laws and protecting schools from attacks, but the Dickinson native noted that lawmakers shouldn't "utilize this tragedy to promote legislation that violates the Second Amendment."

The congressman has backed a bipartisan proposal introduced in February to create an active shooter alert system (similar to AMBER alerts) that would allow police to warn the public of active shooters in their community.

All three members of the delegation have received campaign donations from groups affiliated with the National Rifle Association, a leading gun lobby that Democrats have criticized for stifling legislation that they believe could prevent mass shootings.

Hoeven has received $17,400 in direct contributions from the NRA since 2010, Cramer has gotten $7,500 since 2012 and Armstrong has accepted $5,000 since 2018, according to federal campaign filings.

The endorsed Democratic candidates running against Hoeven and Armstrong this year also sounded off on gun law reforms in the wake of the Texas shooting.

Senate candidate Katrina Christiansen said the gun lobby has bought elected officials and referred to politicians who protect the gun lobby as "cowards of the highest order."


"Negligence by our elected officials allowed this crime to occur. Negligence will allow the next," Christiansen said in a statement. "True (remembrance) and honor of those murdered can only be given by policy changes and enforcement of those policies."

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Katrina Christiansen speaks during the Democratic-NPL Party's state convention in Minot, North Dakota, on March 26, 2022.
Kyle Martin / The Forum

House candidate Mark Haugen told Forum News Service he grew up with hunting culture in western North Dakota and doesn't want to step on Second Amendment rights, but he would support legislation to close loopholes for avoiding background checks prior to gun purchases.

Haugen added that "our society needs increased resources in mental health."

The Bismarck college adviser added his daughter died from a medical illness and he knows how losing a child can rip a parent's soul out.

Jeremy Turley is a Bismarck-based reporter for Forum News Service, which provides news coverage to publications owned by Forum Communications Company.
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