South Dakota Senate Passes “Constitutional Carry” Bill

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In the face of strong opposition from a law enforcement lobby group, the South Dakota Senate passed a “Constitutional Carry” bill by a vote of 23-11 yesterday.

Senate President Pro Tempore Brock L. Greenfield introduced Senate Bill 47 (SB47) with eight cosponsors from both chambers. The bill seeks to repeal numerous sections of state law requiring people to have a license in order to carry a concealed weapon, while still allowing county sheriffs to issue permits for people who want them for reciprocity with other states.

It is currently a misdemeanor for someone to carry a concealed pistol or to have one concealed in a vehicle without a permit; openly carrying a firearm in South Dakota is legal. According to a report by local news station KeloLand News at 5, if SB47 is passed into law, it would repeal 155 years of bans or permits on the books.

Over strong opposition from the South Dakota Sheriffs’ Association, the bill passed the Senate Judiciary committee by a razor-thin margin last week. The 4-3 committee vote sent the bill to debate and yesterday’s approval by the full Senate.

Former Gov. Dennis Daugaard rejected similar measures in the past, but with the election of Kristi Noem, supporters hope the legislation can be signed into law this time around. Gun shop owner Brandon Maddox told news station KSFY that a concealed carry permit is redundant.

“I think that the second amendment friendly people in the state of South Dakota would say that I had to have the background check when I bought the firearm, I passed the background check, I now legally own and possess this handgun. Why should I then have to go to my Sheriff’s Office and get a piece of paper and permission from him to now be able to carry this firearm concealed?”

Greenfield said people are being asked to “lease back” their constitutionally protected right to bear firearms under the current system.

“We’re not trying to create a situation in which South Dakota is the Wild West,” Greenfield told the Rapid City Journal. “We’re simply trying to create a situation in which we recognize that the Second Amendment is paramount and will not be infringed.”

EFFECT ON FEDERAL GUN CONTROL

While permitless carry bills do not directly affect federal gun control, the widespread passage of permitless conceal carry laws in states subtly undermines federal efforts to regulate guns. As we’ve seen with marijuana and industrial hemp, a federal regulation becomes ineffective when states ignore it and pass laws encouraging the prohibited activity anyway.

The federal government lacks the enforcement power necessary to maintain its ban, and people will willingly take on the small risk of federal sanctions if they know the state will not interfere. This increases when the state actively encourages “the market.”

Less restrictive state gun laws will likely have a similar impact on federal gun laws. It will make it that much more difficult for the feds to enforce any future federal gun control, and increase the likelihood that states with few limits will simply refuse to cooperate with federal enforcement efforts.

State actions such as passing SB47 would lower barriers for those wanting to the option of defending themselves with firearms and encourages a “gun-friendly” environment that would make federal efforts to limit firearms that much more difficult.

WHAT’S NEXT

SB47 has been transmitted to the House, where it will first need to pass the Judiciary committee before moving forward.

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