BEGGING RESTRICTIONS Bismarck became the latest North Dakota city to limit panhandling within the city after residents complained of being intimidated or threatened by panhandlers. Bismarck's new ordinance bans begging in a wide variety of locations, including downtown, near ATMs, on school playgrounds, in parks, within 20 feet of a street or bus stop, in crosswalks, near public restrooms or on street medians. Fines range from $50 to $500. We're not sure where panhandlers are allowed to ask for money, given the restrictions, but we certainly understand the city's concern. Bismarck officials said panhandling is a constitutionally permitted activity, but they wanted to establish rules to provide some safety for residents. In cities like Minot, Dickinson and Williston, where populations have skyrocketed in recent years, there's bound to be a corresponding rise in the number of panhandlers. We wonder when more cities in western North Dakota, including Minot, will consider such ordinances.
SCHOOL SHOOTING The small town of Fairmount in southeastern North Dakota was rocked last week by the apparent attempted suicide of a high school student, who shot himself in a classroom during school. The boy, a freshman at the 112-student school, did not threaten anyone else with the weapon, according to authorities. The student survived the shooting and was taken to a hospital in nearby Breckenridge, Minn., just across the border from Fairmount. Classes were canceled for the remainder of the day of the shooting, but resumed on Friday. The student is expected to recover, officials said, but stressed that he will need counseling as part of his recovery. The incident is another stark reminder that such tragedies can happen anywhere. Certainly everyone is happy the student is expected to recover, but he, the school's other students and the entire town will need help in recovering from the shooting. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved.