Fargo to sue state over neighborhood gun sales

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The city commission voted 4 to 1 to take the case to Cass County District Court in a case that could eventually reach the state Supreme Court.

The problem arose after a state law passed by lawmakers this spring stripped cities or counties of the power to restrict any type of sale of firearms or businesses through zoning bylaws. .

He said civil lawsuits could be brought against the cities if state law is ignored.

Although the new law passed in the House by a wide margin of 81-11, it was narrower in the Senate where the vote was 26-20.

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The city’s zoning by-law prohibiting the sale of firearms, ammunition and the production of ammunition for sale or resale as “home occupancy” was proposed and adopted by the City Commission in July 2001 with the “adult entertainment type uses”. Mortuaries, pet kennels, dispatch centers and motor vehicle repair shops have also been banned in neighborhoods.

City attorney Erik Johnson, who investigated the possibility of a trial, said city and state laws conflicted and pointed to parts of North Dakota’s 1889 constitution where “local control is compulsory”.

He said this article is “to ensure maximum local autonomy by all political subdivisions …”

Johnson also pointed to the constitution’s “autonomy mandate” which allows counties and cities to establish local power. Fargo did so by a vote in 1970, and 133 other cities in North Dakota adopted the same system.

Under that provision, Johnson said, the charter and local ordinances supersede all state law within city limits.

In addition, he said, state law delegates all zoning powers to cities, counties and townships. He said there are no state zoning regulations.

So, Johnson said, the new law raises the question of whether the city has any zoning regulatory authority such as property line setbacks, off-street parking requirements, signage and traffic requirements. landscape.

He questioned whether state law would allow a gun retailer to build a store in upscale Rose Creek or one of the city’s oldest historic neighborhoods.

Johnson pointed out that the town’s home occupation law was not a Second Amendment issue as it does not prevent people from owning or owning guns or selling their own guns and personal ammunition from their homes.

It prohibits people from operating a business in their homes where they sell guns or ammunition, he said.

Johnson said they would use Fargo’s Serkland law firm to argue the case in court, as they do in many cases where issues are dealt with in a courtroom.

They hope the matter will be taken to court before state law comes into effect on August 1.

Commissioner Dave Piepkorn, who was vehement about state law that removed local control, stressed that this was not the Second Amendment but local control that the state legislature was removing.

“We will succeed,” Piepkorn said of the court case.

This is not how Commissioner Tony Gehrig, the only vote against continuing the case, sees it.

He said state law takes precedence over any local law and the city cannot ignore it.

The city will waste “tens of thousands of dollars” and pay damages for this case, he said.

“We’re going to lose,” Gehrig said.

He told the other Commissioners that he was lost on its share of problems and that the Commission should just “take its pieces and move on”.

In previous meetings, federally licensed gun dealers have said they will simply use their homes to register or transfer guns for city residents purchased from others, across the states. or on the Internet, and make sure the buyer is legal.

They said other retail stores are not interested in the paperwork required for this job.

Licensed arms dealers, however, are also permitted to sell arms and ammunition to others.


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