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ND Attorney General revokes licenses of 3 Menahga concealed weapon instructors

BISMARCK - A notice in the Sunday newspaper prompted North Dakota's attorney general to revoke the licenses of three instructors who allegedly offered classes for North Dakota concealed weapons permits in Minnesota.

The targets of the action were Manuel "Rusty" Ramirez, Laura Ramirez and Daniel Lendborg of Menahga, Minn., doing business as PermitToCarry.Org.

Liz Brocker, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, said the action arose from a notice published in the outdoors calendar in Sunday's Grand Forks Herald.

It stated in part: "Minnesota, Utah, Florida and North Dakota Permit to Carry class, 10 a.m., Cabela's, East Grand Forks."

East Grand Forks is in Minnesota. Under North Dakota law, classes for concealed weapons permits must be taught in North Dakota and not in conjunction with another state's course, Brocker said.

"That way, we are assured ... that there is integrity, uniformity and consistency in the way in which concealed weapons applicants are taught about North Dakota's laws," she said.

Laura Ramirez, who was listed as the contact person in the notice, told The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead today that the group's North Dakota permit testing is always conducted in Grand Forks, though she acknowledged that wasn't clear in the notice. She said it was an oversight on her part and she didn't intentionally mislead the public.

"When I explained it to them (at the attorney general's office), they did not think that was a sufficient enough answer," Ramirez said, adding she's seeking the advice of an attorney to "pursue the truth" and get their licenses restored.

Brocker said the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation had previously warned PermitToCarry about the way it advertised and conducted its North Dakota concealed weapons training classes. The BCI had issued one warning by email and one by letter since 2009, as well as a couple verbal warnings, she said.

"Applicants have the right to expect that the instructors they have paid to teach them about responsible gun use and compliance with concealed weapons laws are themselves following the rules," Stenehjem said in a news release.

The PermitToCarry instructors don't face criminal penalties, Brocker said.

The revocation action does not affect people who took classes from PermitToCarry instructors before Oct. 11. But those who've registered with the business for upcoming classes for the North Dakota permit will have to make other arrangements, Stenehjem's office said.

North Dakota has two classes of concealed weapons permits.

Those applying for a Class 1 permit must complete classroom instruction, demonstrate familiarity with the weapon and pass an open-book test and a shooting proficiency test.

Class 2 permit holders must complete only the open-book test. The PermitToCarry instructors offered only Class 2 permit testing, Ramirez said.

The higher standard for Class 1 permit holders gives them reciprocity with 35 states - 11 more than for Class 2 permit holders, according to the attorney general's website.

Minnesota has rejected North Dakota's requests for reciprocity because North Dakota's laws aren't as restrictive.

PermitToCarry is an organization of instructors who offer concealed weapons classes in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, Ramirez said.

"We are professionals, we care about our students, we are respectful of the laws and we wouldn't ever do anything that would break the law," she said.