Thousands of South Dakotans have pistols but will Biden’s orders on ‘ghost guns’ and pistol modifications impact them?

KELOLAND.com Original

In this photo taken Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019, are “ghost guns” on display at the headquarters of the San Francisco Police Department in San Francisco. For a few hundred dollars, tools and some elbow grease, you can make your own rifle or handgun. It’s all perfectly legal and it can be done without leaving anything behind for the government to trace. These “ghost guns” have long been popular among hobbyists or gun enthusiasts. But gun control advocates say they are increasingly popping up in crimes, used by people who are prohibited from buying a firearm and are trying to circumvent a background check. (AP Photo/Haven Daley)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Five of President Joe Biden’s executive orders on guns address areas that don’t seem to be covered by state law in South Dakota.

According to whitehouse.gov the President’s executive orders address ‘ghost guns,’ stabilizers that can convert pistols to short-barrel shotguns, red flag laws that allow family members or law enforcement to petition for a court order temporarily barring people in crisis from accessing firearms if they present a danger to themselves or others, evidence based community violence prevention and to have the U.S. Department of Justice issue an annual report on gun trafficking.

It’s difficult to determine if the EOs would directly impact the thousands of residents who have active pistol permits in South Dakota. The EOs refer to guns made by kits, and braces and stabilizers for pistols.

As of Jan. 21, South Dakota had 99,114 active pistol permits and 78,811 as of Feb. 28, according to the South Dakota Secretary of State’s website.

David Hamilton
FILE – In this Aug. 29, 2017, file photo, an ATF agent poses with homemade rifles, or “ghost guns,” at an ATF field office in Glendale, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

The ‘ghost gun’ EO refers to guns that can be assembled from a kit. The ghostguns.com website advertises frames for pistols, for example. Ghostguns also sells ammunition magazines and bulletproof backpacks.

Opponents of so-called ghost guns say they are difficult to trace because they don’t have serial number and do not require a background check.

South Dakota law does cite altered serial numbers on guns.

“Possession of firearm with altered serial number-FelonyException. Any person who possesses any firearm on which the manufacturer’s serial number has been changed, altered, removed or
obliterated is guilty of a Class 6 felony,” according to the 2020 state firearms handbook.

Biden ordered the U.S. Justice Department to propose a rule on ghost guns within 30 days.

The ghostgun.com website says the rule would attempt to regulate uppers and sliders for guns and it does not expect that most of its components will be designated illegal.

Another EO will require the Justice Department within 60 days to issue “a proposed rule to make clear when a device marketed as a stabilizing brace effectively turns a pistol into a short-barreled rifle subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act,” according to whitehouse.gov.

Since 2012, the division of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) has approved allowing AR-15 style pistols to be modified with a stabilizing brace. In 2020, the ATF reviewed this allowance. In an online post on the National Federal Register, the ATF said while stabilizers allow for one-handed shooting of a pistol, which could benefit a disabled person, there were other concerning uses. In short, some stabilizers allow for the pistol to be shot from the shoulder, which was not the original intent and could make it subject to NFA.

The ATF withdrew its review in December of 2020 with no action taken.

Photos of stabilizers used for pistols on numerous websites show pistols that resemble longer guns such as shotguns or other guns.

Youtube also has videos about adding a brace or stabilizer to a pistol and how to use them. Here’s one video. And here’s a second explaining braces and the ATF’s view from 2021.

South Dakota’s requirement on carrying a pistol are: “A permit to carry a concealed pistol may be obtained from the sheriff of the county of which the applicant is a resident. South Dakota residents and nonresidents who may lawfully possess a pistol are not required to have a permit in order to carry a concealed pistol in this state.”

The law does not mention specifically mention stabilizers or braces on pistols.

Also the 2020 firearm handbook from the S.D. Secretary of State office defines gun crimes and the use of certain guns or weapons in crimes but definitions include lengths and automatic discharge such as with a machine gun.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has posted her disapproval of the President’s EOs on her Governor’s Twitter account. Noem cites red flag laws as violating the Second Amendment.

But South Dakota does have some requirements for those seeking a temporary conceal carry permits in the state. According to SDCL 23-7-7.1

23-7-7.1. Requirements for issuance of temporary permit–Time requirement–Appeal of denial.

A temporary permit to carry a concealed pistol shall be issued to a person under § 23-7-7 within five days of application if the person:

(1)    Is eighteen years of age or older;

(2)    Has never pled guilty to, nolo contendere to, or been convicted of a felony or a crime of violence;

(3)    Is not habitually in an intoxicated or drugged condition;

(4)    Has no history of violence;

(5)    Has not been found in the previous ten years to be a danger to others or a danger to self as defined in § 27A-1-1 or is not currently adjudged mentally incompetent;

(6)    Has physically resided in and is a resident of the county where the application is being made for at least thirty days immediately preceding the date of the application;

(7)    Has had no violation of chapter 23-7, 22-14, or 22-42 constituting a felony or misdemeanor in the five years preceding the date of application or is not currently charged under indictment or information for such an offense;

(8)    Is a citizen or legal resident of the United States;

(9)    Is not a fugitive from justice; and

(10)    Is not otherwise prohibited by state law, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) as amended to October 26, 2005, or 18 U.S.C. § 922(n) as amended to October 26, 2005, from receiving, possessing or transporting a firearm, and passes a National Instant Criminal Background Check.

A person denied a permit may appeal to the circuit court pursuant to chapter 1-26.

Biden’s EO said red flag laws allow family members or law enforcement to petition the court to temporarily bar people in crisis from accessing firearms if they present a danger to themselves or others. Biden directed the Department of Justice to propose a model red flag law to make it “easier for states that want to adopt red flag laws to do so,” according to whitehouse.gov. Biden also wants a national red flag law.

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