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North Dakota Senate passes bill for 'armed first responders' in schools

BISMARCK — North Dakota's Senate has passed a bill allowing some schools to have an "armed first responder."

Senators passed House Bill 1332 on a 31-14 vote on Friday, March 29, sending it back to the House for concurrence on amendments. Rep. Pat Heinert, R-Bismarck, brought the bill. The former Burleigh County sheriff revived the bill's concept from the 2017 legislative session, saying it gives an option to schools at great distance from law enforcement.

The bill allows certain schools to develop a plan with the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction for an "armed first responder," who may not be anyone with direct supervision of students. The bill also outlines training.

The bill was amended to make a school's safety plan a confidential record.

Sen. Donald Schaible, R-Mott, carried the bill, saying it's something no school wants, but some may need.

"What we're trying to do with this bill is offer an option to schools that don't have any other choices," Schaible said.

Sen. Merrill Piepkorn, D-Fargo, opposed the bill for its involvement of guns in schools and its confidentiality.

"I'm not going to be the one to put another gun or a gun into a school," Piepkorn said.