TTAG Reader Mr. B. writes:
I’m an inherently optimistic individual. I always look on the bright side of situations, and I tend to dismiss the naysayers and pessimists. My wife even gets annoyed by it sometimes and my students can’t believe how happy and cheerful I am on Mondays when I tell them, “This is going to be a great week, just wait and see!” So when the North Dakota Attorney General’s website says that it may take up to 60 days to process my concealed weapon license application, I actually believed they could get it done early . . .
This wasn’t my first time applying for a concealed carry permit. I grew up in North Dakota and received my first permit in 2009, when the state still only had a single-tier carry permit. To get my permit I had to fill out an application, get my fingerprints taken, complete a 10-question, open book test, and send it all in with a fee of $60. Easy enough, right? My permit arrived in three weeks. The whole process was simple and fast enough for a gun-friendly state like North Dakota. Gun laws in general are better in North Dakota than most states (apart from those lucky few with constitutional carry).
That permit was valid until I moved to South Dakota, where I was delighted to find out that their process for concealed carry was even less restrictive. To apply in South Dakota, I went to my county sheriff’s department, filled out an application, and handed it back to the nice lady behind the glass. She mailed it to the state office, which made sure I could legally carry, and then they sent my permit back to the county sheriff. The sheriff’s office gave me a call when my permit arrived a week later, and I paid $10 for a five year concealed carry permit. That was even easier than North Dakota.
After procuring a wife and son in South Dakota I moved back up to the Better Dakota in 2015. My permit from the South was now invalid and I would need to reapply for a Peace Garden permit. However, during my absence from the state, North Dakota amended their concealed carry laws, the biggest change being the two-class system. A Class 2 permit in North Dakota is identical to the permit I had received in 2009, but a Class 1 permit provides much greater reciprocity with other states.
While the Class 2 only has reciprocity with 25 states, the Class 1 permit has reciprocity with 39. The most important addition to the Class 1 list is Minnesota. I, along with many other North Dakotans, had been hoping for this for a long time. Gone are the days of needing CCW permits from several states. (In fact, when the People’s Republic of Minnesota changed their adding reciprocity with our Class 1 permit, they eliminated and invalidated the Utah permits that many North Dakotans had obtained because of its reciprocity with Minnesota and other states. (That, by the way, pissed off a lot of people who had gone through the trouble of getting a Utah permit). I would now be able to take a trip to Grand Forks and then head over to Cabela’s in East Grand Forks without having to disarm.
In order to get that reciprocity with 14 more states, North Dakota had to increase the standards for acquiring a Class 1 permit. Both permit classes have to go through an entire class taught by qualified instructors and take a 35-question open-book test, but Class 1 applicants must also pass a shooting and firearm familiarity test, too.
The shooting test consists of 24 total shots fired at an 8½ by 11-inch piece of paper in two separate stages. Magazines are loaded with six rounds of ammunition and the shooter has two magazines per round. The stages are laid out in this way:
- Stage 1 is shot from seven yards. The shooter must draw their handgun from a secured holster and fire one magazine using ONLY their strong shooting hand, reload their handgun, and then fire one magazine using ONLY the normal support hand. All rounds are fired from a standing position. The time limit for this stage is 55 seconds.
- Stage 2 is shot from 15 yards. The shooter must draw their handgun from a secured holster and fire one magazine from a standing position, reload their handgun, and then fire one magazine from a kneeling position. The time limit for this stage is 50 seconds.
Each shot that hits the paper is worth one point. In order to pass you must have a combined score of 70% from both stages, or 17 hits total. While not extremely difficult, the shooting test is a realistic example of distances at which personal defense shootings take place.
On the day of the class I chose at Gungnir Defense Solutions, I arrived to find nine other individuals looking to acquire their permits. The instructors had provided coffee and donuts for the students, which was greatly appreciated. Everyone had their pistols out on the table in front of them, with slides locked back and magazines out. All were semi autos. Most of the guns were GLOCKs, with a few Rugers and one HK. I took a seat, placed my Gen 3 G17 on the table, and waited for the class to begin.
The two instructors began by introducing themselves and the material the class would cover. They were both police officers from northeastern North Dakota and had been teaching CCW lessons for a while. A majority of the material that they had to teach was taken directly from the Concealed Weapon handbook that I had just read through. And when I say directly, I mean they have a PowerPoint presentation provided by the state that has the entire handbook and supporting ND Century Code statutes laid out word-for-word. This’s what the state requires to be done in the classroom. Dry as it is, the instructors made it as enjoyable as they could. They took questions throughout the presentation, gave insight from their own experiences as police officers, and gave a short demonstration of shooting techniques and handling firearms.
The test that followed was bureaucratic garbage. It was a confusingly worded 35-question true-or-false test. It seemed purposefully designed to trick the test taker into answering incorrectly. The typos and grammatical errors were just the moldy cherry on top of it all. As a teacher this really bothered me. A test should be written in a way that challenges the student to display their knowledge and mastery of a subject.
In order to pass the test, I had to get 100% on the first 28 questions, and 70% on the last seven questions. If you get a question wrong, you are allowed to correct it. However, they do not tell you which questions are incorrect because you could just switch it from true to false and vice versa. So they tell you how many are wrong on each page, forcing you to read through each question and determine if it was correct or not. (Again, this is not a great method of testing). Luckily, I only had one wrong and was able to find it and correct it quickly. Some of my classmates did not fair as well and spent close to an hour correcting their tests. The written testing process is a joke, but a hoop you have to jump through.
Once everyone had finished we were off to the range for the shooting portion. Our instructors asked if there was anybody who had shooting experience and felt confident going first. Another guy and I raised our hands and went to the front to prepare to shoot. (I figured they did this so that they could get finished so they could then spend more time with the less experienced shooters). They explained the range rules to the class and the other guy who volunteered went up to the firing line. He went through both stages quickly, only missing a few shots. I was up next.
I loaded four magazines with six rounds of Federal 115 grain FMJ. I put one mag in my left pocket and the other in my pistol. I racked the slide, holstered my weapon, and stepped up the 7-yard firing line. Firing with my strong hand was perfect, six for six, all hitting the middle third of the paper.
My nerves got to me when I switched to just my left hand, though, and the results were less than stellar: I missed my first four shots and nicked right edge of the paper with my last two shots.
First stage done and I can only miss two more shots. I grabbed two more mags and went to the 15-yard line for stage two. I composed myself, took a deep breath, and drew my gun. My first six shots hit paper. I reloaded, lowered my right knee, and knelt down. My last six shots peppered the paper, too. I ended with a total of 20/24, or 83%. One of the instructors signed my application and I was done.
As I was leaving the other instructor caught up to me. He thanked me for coming and we talked for a bit about different gun topics. I asked him about his police work and he told me a few good stories. I thanked him for the class and got in my car, hearing the shots of the next shooter as I drove away.
That was all on a Saturday. On Monday I gathered together everything I needed for my application — paperwork, fingerprint cards, passport quality photos, a copy of my ND driver’s license, and the $60 fee — and mailed everything to the state to start the waiting game.
I finally received my CCW permit in the mail on February 16th. I may only be a lowly English teacher, but I can still do some math: I took my test on December 5th and mailed my application on December 7th, so from the time the state would have received my application (December 8th) to the delivery of the permit to my mailbox was 71 days. I was hoping it might be a month at most. In the end I’m just happy it showed up and I don’t have to worry about renewing for another five years.
I understand that being optimistic about government efficiency is just setting myself up for disappointment. I suppose I gave them too much credit. The ND BCI has been getting bombarded with applications the last few years. When I applied in 2009 there were only 12,000 permit holders in the state. In 2016 there are over 40,000.
I’m glad I went through the whole ordeal, despite it being much more strenuous than South Dakota’s application process. (SD now has its own version of a Class 1 permit called an “Enhanced Permit” which also has greater reciprocity, including Minnesota.) I had great instructors and good classmates to spend the morning with (I cannot recommend Gungnir Defense Solutions enough). I can now carry most places in the state. I feel much more at ease knowing I’ll be able to defend myself and others should the need arise.
If I could carry at work I’d be even happier. As things stand now, school carry for teachers in North Dakota is not happening, but I’m confident I’ll be able to soon. After all, what’s the point of being an optimist if I don’t have a few dreams?