Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Duo of gun bills get shot down by House Judiciary Committee

A DCI evidence photo showing what investigators said was the handgun used by a suspect during an incident in Sioux Falls in July of 2023.
South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation
Attorney General's Office
A DCI evidence photo showing what investigators said was the handgun used by a suspect during an incident in Sioux Falls in July of 2023. Authorities said this gun was stolen from a vehicle.

A pair of bills aiming to add penalties for negligent gun owners were rejected by lawmakers in the House Judiciary Committee.

House Bill 1153 would have attached a civil penalty to the owner of a firearm if they do not report it lost or stolen.

Rep. Linda Duba introduced the bill. She said there is an uptick in stolen firearms in cities across the state.

“I will refer to my hometown of Sioux Falls, in particular District 15 where I live. We have this happening on a more frequent basis, and many of the firearms that are left in vehicles, that are stolen — whether the vehicle itself is stolen or the firearm is stolen out of the vehicle — are being used in crimes in the city and around the area,” said Duba.

Brian Gosch is a lawyer and lobbyist for the NRA. He said the bill is focused on penalizing the wrong person.

“It leaves it up to the discretion of the investigating officer to look into the mind of the victim and guess as to whether they should have known of the loss. It's arbitrary and capricious review of someone who was recently victimized, when the focus should be on prosecuting the individual who engaged in the larceny,” said Gosch.

Duba said the bill would help gun owners. She said if owners report their lost or stolen firearm, they would not be accused of taking part in illegal activity that transpires afterward.

Duba also introduced House Bill 1174. The bill would have created a legal penalty for improperly storing a firearm. She said faulty storage of firearms is a contributor to suicide.

“In 50 percent of the cases of suicides, they are not planned, and they are spur of the moment. And unfortunately, the majority of those are guns. In the state of South Dakota, we are seeing raising suicides on an ongoing basis, whether they be children or adults," said Duba. "What I am trying to do is help those situations from becoming reality.” 

Opponents of the bill said “proper storage” is not well defined. They also argue that the bill would create a large civil liability.

The committee overwhelmingly voted to kill both bills.

Duba said that this is her final term and that she hopes another legislator will continue to bring further gun control related bills in the future.

Evan Walton is an SDPB reporter based in Sioux Falls. Evan holds a Master’s in English Literature from Southern New Hampshire University and was honorably discharged from the United States Army in 2015, where he served for five years as an infantryman.