North Dakota bar owner snubs closure order 5 times in 4 days


In this March 27, 2020 file photo North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum speaks during a news conference at the state Capitol in Bismarck, N.D. Burgum said a major presidential disaster declaration has been approved as the number of COVID-19 cases in North Dakota continues to rise. Burgum also extended closures Wednesday, April1, 2020 for many businesses by two weeks, until April 20. (Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)

WILLOW CITY, N.D. (AP) — A small-town North Dakota bar owner who was cited five times in four days for violating Gov. Doug Burgum’s order to close downplayed risks from the coronavirus and said he prefers “a dangerous freedom to a peaceful slavery.”

David Corum, owner of Gunslinger’s in Willow City, said he understands there’s “a face, there’s stories, there’s loved ones” associated with the virus but added that “you also have to be realistic and pragmatic” about the scope of the problem.

“Three dead out of 760,000 people? 5,000 dead out of 330 million people?” Corum said. “You’re just not going to convince me this pandemic is the threat they claim it is.”

Said Corum, “I want to paraphrase what Thomas Jefferson said: I prefer a dangerous freedom to a peaceful slavery.”

Corum was issued citations on March 25 and 26, two on March 27 and another on March 28, court documents show. The charges against him are infractions, which do not rise to the level of a misdemeanor, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

Corum said he and certain county officials “go way back” and he believes some of the motivation behind the citations is political. He also noted that President Donald Trump and Burgum can be seen standing closer than 6 feet to others in the rooms at recent meetings.

“The hypocrisy is outrageous,” he said.

Burgum, who shut down all bars and restaurants except for takeout and delivery orders, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bottineau County Sheriff Steve Watson said he received a number of texts and calls from county residents who complained about the bar being open. He gave Corum information about the governor’s order but the bar owner continued to stay open.

“People were congregating,” Watson said. “He wasn’t following the rules of the governor.”

A pretrial court order prohibits Corum from serving alcohol at the bar. He was not arrested and is free on a $3,000 personal recognizance bond, court documents show.

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