SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — What do South Dakota’s gun laws look like? 

South Dakota, known for its pheasant hunting, has a population with one of the highest gun ownership rates per capita. A number of organizations rank South Dakota as being a state friendly to gun owners or a state without strong gun laws. 

Guns & Ammo ranked South Dakota No. 7 in its annual “Best states for gun owners” ranking in 2022. Guns & Ammo said South Dakota’s score got a boost in 2021 from enacting a “model stand-your-ground bill and lowering carry permit fees to $0.” 

When looking at gun control laws, Everytown for Gun Safety, ranked South Dakota as No. 45 for gun law strength. 

“In an average year, 120 people die by guns. With a rate of 13.6 deaths per 100,000 people, South Dakota has the 28th-highest rate of gun deaths in the US,” Everytown for Gun Safety’s website says citing CDC statistics. 

Two gun-related bills brought by Democrat Rep. Linda Duba in the 2023 legislative session failed in a House committee. The South Dakota State Medical Association spoke in support of both bills, while the NRA spoke in opposition to both.

In December, newly-elected Secretary of State Monae Johnson published a 35-page “South Dakota Firearm Handbook” to look at the various federal and state laws regarding gun ownership. 

To buy a gun from a licensed gun dealer, a person needs to complete a form from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms for a transaction record and meet provisions of the Federal Brady Law, which includes a National Instant Criminal Background Check. 

South Dakota’s gun laws related to “unlawful use of weapons” include felonies for altered serial numbers on a firearm, reckless discharge of a loaded firearm while intoxicated and firearm possession after a violent crime conviction or felony drug conviction.  

State law also bans any city, town or county government from restricting gun possession, sale, transportation, transfer, manufacture or repair of guns or ammunition. 

State law also prohibits guns or dangerous weapons on public school property or in a vehicle or building unless it is a law enforcement office or school sentinel. 

State law enacted in 2013 allows for any school board to create and supervise the arming of school employees as school sentinels through the attorney general’s office. It is up to each school district to opt-in to the school sentinel program which requires 80 hours of training.  

South Dakota doesn’t require residents or nonresidents to have a pistol permit to carry a concealed pistol as long as they are 18 years of age and older and not prohibited from possessing a gun. That was the first law signed by Gov. Kristi Noem in 2019.