Department of Public Instruction officials took public comments on the proposed rules for North Dakota’s Armed First Responder program at the Capitol Monday, moving closer to formalizing a program aimed at boosting student safety. The meeting was the next step in the process to set guidelines for the program approved by the 2019 Legislature giving school boards the authority to designate a person who may carry or have access to a concealed weapon at a school. The only person who spoke was Susan Beehler, of Mandan, who was wearing a red “Moms Demand Action” T-shirt. Beehler, who hadn’t yet read the proposed rules, wants to see background checks done on armed responder applicants, as well as extensive interviews with members of the applicants’ household and other people who know the applicant personally, to ensure that domestic abusers do not have access to a weapon near children. Beehler said she was victim of domestic violence growing up. “My concern is bringing somebody in that’s respected in the community but you might not know what had gone on in their household,” she said.
The proposed rules require armed first responder applicants to undergo a criminal background check and receive approval from local law enforcement agencies as well as the school board. The applicant also must undergo a mental health evaluation. [full article]