North Dakota Gun Laws


North Dakota is bordered to the north by Canada, the south by South Dakota, the west by Montana, and the east by Minnesota.  It is the third least-populous state in the United States, and agriculture is its largest economic industry.  Open carry is legal in North Dakota with a valid license to carry, but You can carry an unloaded handgun without a license during daylight hours, or at any time on Your property.

A. State Constitution

Regarding the right to bear arms, the North Dakota Constitution states:

“All individuals are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of …to keep and bear arms for the defense of their person, family, property, and the state, and for lawful hunting, recreational, and other lawful purposes, which shall not be infringed.”


B. Scope of Preemption

The controlling language of North Dakota’s preemption statute is set forth as follows:

“A political subdivision, including home rule cities or counties, may not enact any ordinance relating to the purchase, sale, ownership, transfer of ownership, registration, or licensure of fire arms and ammunition which is more restrictive than state law.  All such existing ordinances are void.”


C. Reciprocal Carry

By statute, North Dakota will recognize another state’s license to carry if that state recognizes North Dakota’s license:

“A person who has a valid license issued by another state to carry a concealed firearm or dangerous weapon in that state and whose state grants to residents of this state the right to carry a concealed firearm or dangerous weapon without requiring a separate license to carry a concealed firearm or dangerous weapon issued by that state may carry, subject to the provisions of this state’s law, a concealed firearm or dangerous weapon in this state, and the other state’s license is valid in this state.”

Non-residents must have a valid concealed weapons license from their home state, which is determined by their driver’s license and the state must have reciprocity with North Dakota.  Anyone contemplating reciprocal carry should check with the official list maintained by the North Dakota State Police at the point in time the reciprocal carry is to occur.  States add and delete states with reciprocity agreements over time.


D. NFA Items

North Dakota permits ownership of all NFA items, provided they are legally obtained pursuant to federal law.  It is legal to use suppressors for hunting.

E. Carrying Firearms in Vehicles

North Dakota permits anyone who may legally possess a firearm to carry it in a vehicle without a permit, openly or concealed, so long as the firearm is unloaded.  A carry permit is generally required to carry a loaded firearm in a vehicle.


F. Self-defense Laws

North Dakota has a Castle Doctrine but no SYG law.  There is no duty to retreat when in Your dwelling.  You may use force, including deadly force, in defense of yourself or others if You reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death, SBI, the commission of a forcible felony, or if necessary to protect Your dwelling, place of business, or occupied motor home from arson, burglary, robbery, or other forcible felonies. []

G. Criminal Provisions

Under North Dakota law, a license to carry a handgun is not valid in any of the following places or circumstances, whether it is issued by North Dakota, or a person is carrying pursuant to a reciprocity agreement between his or her state of license and North Dakota:

  • In an establishment that sells alcoholic beverages, other than a liquor store or restaurant, although one may not sit at a restaurant’s bar or consume alcohol while carrying
  • In a government building
  • A gaming (gambling) establishment
  • At a public gathering, which includes:
    • Athletic or sporting events
    • Schools or school functions, except college students or employees with a valid license may keep a firearm in a locked vehicle on campus
    • Churches or church functions, except with permission
    • Political rallies or functions
  • Any place where a ‘no gun sign’ is posted
  • Publicly owned and operated buildings
  • Machine guns must be registered with the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the county sheriff

For a list of places where carrying firearms is prohibited, see: