Skip to main content
Find a Lawyer
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

North Dakota Gun Control Laws

Gun control laws in the U.S. today include a patchwork of federal and state laws aimed at preventing gun violence. Federal law, from the Second Amendment's right to bear arms to the Gun Control Act of 1968, provides a baseline. State laws and regulations can then provide more or less restrictions. 

Federal firearms regulation as we know it today began in the 1930s with the passage of the National Firearms Act (NFA). Under the NFA, the government taxed the manufacturing of specific firearms and devices. This included machine guns, shotguns, and rifles with barrels under 18 inches long, as well as silencers and mufflers. It also required registration. 

In 1968, the GCA revised and retooled the NFA and expanded the list of prohibited persons, who are banned from firearm possession or ownership. In the 1990s, federal law created the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

North Dakota gun laws are less restrictive than those of many other states. Whereas some states require a waiting period for gun buyers before taking ownership of a gun, North Dakota does not. When a buyer purchases a gun from a federally licensed firearms dealer, federal law requires a criminal background check prior to completion of the purchase. Federal law does not cover private sales transactions that don't go through a licensed dealer. 

As a result, many states today pass laws requiring universal background checks for all purchases or transfers of firearms in the state. North Dakota does not require universal background checks.

In 2017, North Dakota enacted a Constitutional Carry law that allows North Dakota residents to carry concealed firearms whether they have a concealed weapons license (CWL) or not. In such circumstances, the gun owner must have a valid driver's license or other ID on their person, and they cannot otherwise be prohibited from having the firearm under state or federal law.

There has been some controversy over whether residents can carry a loaded firearm in their motor vehicle if they otherwise qualify for constitutional or permitless carry. State law provides an offense against the carry of loaded firearms in motor vehicles. 

The North Dakota attorney general issued a legal opinion on the matter, concluding that a resident who qualified for permitless carry could carry a loaded firearm in their vehicle if they could produce upon a stop or inquiry from local law enforcement a valid state driver's license or other state-issued photo identification card. The state has now incorporated this into state law.

Details about North Dakota's gun control laws are listed below. See Gun Laws for related information.

Relevant Statutes (Laws)

North Dakota Century Code, Title 62.1, Sections 62.1-01-01 through 62.1-05-03

Illegal Arms

The following are prohibited by North Dakota law:
  • Short-barreled rifles
  • Short-barreled shotguns
  • Machine guns and fully automatic rifles
  • Silencers

Waiting Period

North Dakota has no waiting period for purchasing a gun.

Who May Not Own

A person may not possess a firearm in North Dakota if they:

  • Have been convicted anywhere of a felony offense involving violence or intimidation under North Dakota law or an equivalent felony offense of another state or the federal government. The prohibition lasts for a 10-year period following conviction or the release from prison, parole, or probation, whichever is the latest.
  • Have been convicted anywhere of a felony offense, a class A misdemeanor offense involving violence or intimidation, or an equivalent offense of another state or the federal government, and the offense was committed while using or possessing a firearm, a dangerous weapon, or a destructive device or an explosive. The prohibition lasts for a five-year period following conviction or the release from prison, parole, or probation, whichever is latest.
  • Have ever been diagnosed and confined or committed to a hospital or other institution by a court as a person requiring mental health treatment, or as a mentally deficient individual
  • Are under the age of eighteen years and the firearm is a handgun, with some exceptions such as target practice or hunting with adult supervision

License Required?

North Dakota does not require a license to purchase or own a gun.

Concealed Carry License Required?

North Dakota has a permitless carry law. It does not require an actual concealed carry license to carry a concealed firearm for residents who are otherwise eligible to get a concealed carry license. However, a resident must have a valid driver's license or state ID card for at least 30 days, and they must carry their ID or driver's license at all times when carrying a concealed firearm. North Dakota maintains a concealed carry permitting system to assist residents with reciprocity in other states.

Open Carried Allowed?

There is no explicit law that addresses open carry of firearms in North Dakota. However, state law does provide that a person not otherwise prohibited by law may carry a handgun if the handgun is unloaded and in plain view or secured. There are exceptions to this rule for persons on their own property or at their own place of business, concealed carry license holders, law enforcement, military, and others.

Eligibility for a Concealed Carry License

North Dakota does not require a license to conceal carry, but the state offers a concealed carry license to people who wish to carry a concealed firearm in states that recognize a North Dakota license. North Dakota offers a Class 1 license and Class 2 license. The main difference is that the Class 1 license is more likely to be accepted in other states. To be eligible for a concealed carry license, a person must:

  • Be 21 years old for a Class 1 firearm license or 18 years old for a Class 2 license
  • Prove residency in North Dakota by providing a copy of a valid driver's license or state-issued identification card, or prove residency in a state that has reciprocity with North Dakota and that they have a valid concealed carry license in that state
  • Not be prohibited from possessing a firearm under state or federal law
  • For a Class 1 firearm license, not have been convicted of a felony, a crime of violence, an offense involving the use of alcohol in the last three years, a misdemeanor offense involving the unlawful use of narcotics or other controlled substances in the last 10 years, an offense involving moral turpitude, or an offense involving domestic violence
  • For a Class 1 firearm license, not have been adjudicated by a state or federal court as mentally incompetent and must be qualified to purchase and possess a firearm under federal law
  • Successfully complete a required testing procedure conducted by a certified test administrator
  • Satisfactorily complete the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) application form and successfully pass the criminal history records check conducted by BCI and the FBI

Machine Gun Laws

North Dakota prohibits machine gun possession unless a person has complied with the National Firearms Act's requirements for possessing a machine gun.

Penalties for Illegal Firearm Possession

North Dakota's penalties for violating gun laws depend on the offense. Class C felony offenses include:
  • Illegal possession of a firearm due to conviction of a felony offense involving violence or intimidation
  • Illegal possession of a firearm where an offender commits an offense while using or possessing a firearm after conviction for any other felony or a class A misdemeanor offense of violence or intimidation
  • Illegal possession of a short-barreled rifle or shotgun
  • Illegal possession of a machine gun, fully automatic rifle, or silencer
The penalty for a Class C felony is up to five years in prison; up to a $10,000 fine; or both. Class A misdemeanor offenses include:
  • Illegal possession of a firearm due to court commitment to a hospital or institution for mental deficiency
  • Illegal possession of a handgun by a minor under 18 years of age
  • Illegal carrying of a handgun
  • Illegal carrying of a concealed firearm
The penalty for a Class A misdemeanor is up to 360 days in jail; up to a $3,000 fine; or both.

Penalties for Illegal Possession on or Near School Grounds

A person who illegally possesses a gun at a public gathering, which includes at a school or school-sponsored event on school grounds, is guilty of an infraction, punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000.

Red Flag Law?

No. North Dakota does not have a Red Flag law.

Universal Background Checks?


Stand Your Ground Law?

Yes. North Dakota enacted a Stand Your Ground law in 2021. (See NDCC 12.1-05-07(2)(b)(2).)

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts that include federal decisions, ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the status of the state law(s) you are reviewing.

Research the Law

North Dakota Gun Control Laws: Related Resources

Facing a Gun Charge?

If you have been arrested for illegally possessing a gun or face another gun violation, you need the help of an experienced lawyer. Find a North Dakota criminal law attorney today.

Was this helpful?

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.

Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • Complex criminal defense situations usually require a lawyer
  • Defense attorneys can help protect your rights
  • A lawyer can seek to reduce or eliminate criminal penalties

Get tailored advice and ask your legal questions. Many North Dakota attorneys offer free consultations.


 If you need an attorney, find one right now.

Copied to clipboard

Find a Lawyer

More Options