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The State Board of Higher Education approved a policy Thursday to allow North Dakota college presidents to authorize individuals to keep firearms in campus residence halls.

The policy was drafted in response to House Bill 1279, a proposal to allow individuals to store firearms or other deadly weapons in state-owned or managed buildings, provided the individual resides in the building, stores the weapons in his or her “assigned residential unit” and secures the consent of “the state, the governing board or a designee.”

HB1279 was written as an emergency measure — a legislative term meaning it would be effective immediately upon signature by the North Dakota secretary of state — and passed unanimously in both houses of the Legislature. It was returned Monday to the House for approval of amendments and is expected to be passed to Gov. Doug Burgum by the end of the week.

Without the bill, possessing firearms in publicly owned buildings could draw a charge of a Class B misdemeanor if the carrier does not meet exemptions, such as those for law enforcement officers.

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