The Senate Judiciary committee is passing an almost identical bill from last year that allows permit-less carry of a concealed pistol.
Senate Bill 104 removes the Class 1 misdemeanor and other charges for carrying without a permit.
Republican State Senator Lance Russell is sponsoring the legislation that he and other supporters call “constitutional carry.” A similar bill garnered considerable debate last year. The governor ultimately vetoed the bill. The legislature was unable to override the veto.
As a former state’s attorney in Fall River County, Senator Russell says he’s bringing the legislation again because pistol carriers have accidentally concealed a weapon and incurred costs because of it.
“An otherwise law abiding citizen would end up in the county jail and have a $200-$300 dollar expense on a car tow. It’s just unnecessary,” Russell says. “From my perspective I’ve always thought this is an appropriate way to deal with this. I’ve brought this bill numerous times over the last ten years I’ve been in the legislature. I’m hopeful this year we might have a chance to get it enacted into law.”
Russell, who is also a candidate for Attorney General, says he hopes the governor will change his mind on the bill.
Both the States Attorney’s Association and the State Sheriff’s Association oppose the legislation.
Republican State Senator Arthur Rusch was a States Attorney in Clay County from 1973 until 1985. He says over the course of his tenure he never prosecuted a case where someone was jailed for accidentally concealing a gun.
“I don’t believe that the remedy to our violent society is for everybody to be carrying guns," Rusch says. "I think that will merely exacerbate the problem.”
Senate Bill 104 passed on a 6 to 2 vote. The bill now heads to the Senate floor. Governor Dennis Daugaard says the current rules and permitting process for concealed carry pistols are sufficient.