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Why SD's Congressional delegation voted against the recent gun bill

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SDPB

President Joe Biden has signed new gun safety laws into place, but South Dakota’s congressional delegation voted against the bill.

It was the first significant piece of gun safety legislation in 30 years.

The federal law includes incentives for states to pass so-called Red Flag laws. Those provide a process to remove weapons from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.

The new law also prevents dating partners convicted of domestic abuse from owning a gun. Current law restricted only spouses with domestic abuse convictions. That was one of the sticking points for U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds, who voted against the bill.

“The reason I could not support it is they have suggested that if someone has a misdemeanor charge in a domestic violence thing that they would lose their Second Amendment rights for a period of five years. I don’t think a misdemeanor charge should allow for that,” Rounds said.

Rounds says some of the measures in the gun bill were good. The bill expands background checks on people between 18 and 21 seeking to buy a gun. Rounds wanted to see that expanded to include their juvenile court records.

South Dakota’s lone congressman also says there were some things he liked about the bill. That includes new investments in mental health.

Republican Rep. Dusty Johnson says Congress was finally putting money where its mouth was. But it wasn’t enough to override his concerns about “eroding Second Amendment rights without due process.”

“And when you’re talking with Red Flag laws you have to make really really sure that you’re providing due process," Johnson said. "Keep in mind, due process is in the Bill of Rights as well. If you’re not giving people a fully opportunity to push back in the erosion of their rights, I think you’re doing it wrong.”

President Biden signed the bill into law on June 25.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.