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Politics

First Of Four Permit-less Concealed Carry Pistol Bills Reaches Noem's Desk

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SDPB

UPDATE: Governor Noem is tweeting she will sign SB 47 on Thursday. "Our Founding Fathers believed so firmly in our right to bear arms that they enshrined it into the Constitution... This constitutional carry legislation will further protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding South Dakotans."

South Dakota lawmakers have approved the first of several potential bills that would allow people to carry a concealed pistol, without requiring a permit. That measure is now waiting for action from Governor Kristi Noem.  

It’s part of a multi-year effort by some lawmakers aligned with the gun lobby. But this version of the bill does not have the support of the state’s law enforcement.

The bill is one of the first to reach Governor Noem’s desk this session. It’s almost identical to a 2017 bill which passed through the legislature, but failed when lawmakers could not override a veto from Governor Dennis Daugaard.

Republican Representative Lee Qualm is the majority leader and the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 47 in the house. He says this is a big deal for South Dakotans.

“Everybody has the right to defend themselves no matter what,” Qualm says. “I’m thoroughly convinced—as I said on the floor—that a good guy with a gun will beat a bad guy with a gun any day. It’s a deterrent. I firmly believe it’s a deterrent to crime, more than it adds to crime. It’s a deterrent because then the bad guy has no idea who is carrying and I think that’s good.”

State lawmakers passed the bill through the House and Senate in just seven legislative days.

Shannon Hoime is a chapter leader with Moms Demand Action, South Dakota. Hoime says while they support the 2nd amendment and gun rights, the permitting process to carry a concealed pistol should be an important part of the law.

“Laws are meant to deter people, and they do deter people in some instances,” Hoime says. “I just think that it’s an important step in the process of keeping our communities safer.”

A recent poll by SurveyUSA shows more than 60 percent of South Dakotans want to keep the permit requirement.

Right now, county sheriff’s must approve concealed carry permit applications, which requires a background and online-records check.

Current South Dakota concealed carry permits are valid for five years and cost 10 bucks.

There are just over 107-thousand active permits in the state, as of November of last year.

The prime-sponsor of the bill in the senate is state senator Brock Greenfield. He’s confident Governor Noem will approve the legislation.

“I think we’re all optimistic that if we get something to her desk—I think we meet with a better than 50/50 chance of it getting signed,” Greenfield says.

However, Governor Noem hasn’t committed to signing this version of concealed carry legislation, yet. She says her support will depend on the language of the bill. Noem says she supports the principle of constitutional carry.

“I’ve talked extensively about that,” Noem says. “We will look at specific language in each of these bills and see where the support is. I’ve also talked extensively about the fact that it’s important to me that we consult with law enforcement officers and that we have them at the table for this discussion, because their role is incredibly important with making sure that we are protecting people while protecting people’s rights.”

State law enforcement leaders do not support the bill before the governor. The South Dakota Sheriff’s Association, Police Chiefs Association and States Attorneys Association all oppose it.

Minnehaha County denies roughly 3 percent of concealed carry permit applicants each year. Sheriff Mike Milstead says that’s about 125 denials annually. With no residency requirement, Milstead says this bill would allow anyone from anywhere in the country to carry a concealed pistol in the state.

“It basically opens up, for anyone in the US who would travel to South Dakota, to be able to carry concealed in our state, even if they don’t have that ability in their own state,” Milstead says.

Milstead says he and other law enforcement officials worry about allowing motorcycle gang members to carry a concealed pistol when they come to the Sturgis Motorcyle Rally.

He says the sheriff’s association also must focus on other potential public safety threats.

“We also have the very real potential of pipeline protest coming up in the near future—in the next year or two,” Milstead says. “Imagine’ what happened in North Dakota, if out-of-staters were to come in carrying a concealed weapon in a situation like they had in North Dakota with their pipeline protest, which we hope don’t happen, but—again—we have to realize what could happen.”

Milstead favors another version of concealed carry legislation. A House Bill would allowpermit-less concealed carry, but would require that person be a South Dakota resident.

State law requires each bill receive at least a hearing in committee. House Republican leaders say they’ll at least have discussions about residency requirements… for now.

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