S.D. House Strips Concealed-Carry Laws, Sends Legislation To Governor Noem


One result of electing Kristi Noem as South Dakota’s governor last November became clear Tuesday.

The South Dakota House of Representatives repealed many of the state’s concealed-carry permit laws and sent the legislation to Noem for a decision whether the repeal becomes state law.

Noem, who took office January 5, has said she supports what’s known as constitutional carry.

Previous Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed a similar measure that would have allowed most South Dakota adults to carry concealed weapons without a state permit. Both are Republicans.

The House vote was 47-23.

Senate Bill 47 previously won Senate approval 23-11 on January 22. Prime sponsor was Republican Senator Brock Greenfield of Clark, the Senate’s president pro tem.

House Republican leader Lee Qualm of Platte said adults can openly carry a weapon but must have a permit for concealed carry, such as beneath a coat, under a seat or in a purse or tote.

South Dakota’s permit system would remain in effect for its residents to use in other states.

“Criminals on the other hand are already carrying concealed firearms without regard to our law,” Qualm said. He is the bill’s lead sponsor in the House.

South Dakota would join more than one dozen other states that allow it.

“This just allows you to wear a coat while carrying,” Republican Representative Drew Dennert of Aberdeen said.

At least four Republican senators who supported the legislation stood across the back of the House chamber throughout much of the debate.

Republican Representative Timothy Johns of Lead offered an amendment calling for a criminal penalty of a class-one misdemeanor if someone carried a concealed weapon but didn’t meet a qualification.

Johns, a retired circuit judge, said the legislation would repeal all concealed-carry laws, including for people from other states. He said there wouldn’t be a background check required any longer.

“We deal with perceptions in this business,” Johns said. He argued the amendment would give the public “assurance” and current law doesn’t allow people under age 18 to carry a concealed weapon under any circumstances.

Republican Representative Jon Hansen of Dell Rapids said a federal requirement already prohibits juveniles from carrying a pistol unless she or he has prior written consent from a parent.

Hansen, a lawyer, said a background check would still be required at the time of purchase. He called for defeat of the Johns amendment.

Johns countered that state law wouldn’t require prior written consent of a parent without the amendment.

The amendment failed 29-41.

Democratic Representative Erin Healy of Sioux Falls said she was “concerned” because the legislation would allow people with violent histories to carry “loaded hidden guns.”

Healy said background checks could be avoided through sales between friends, acquaintances and family. “I think this is our one check to keep children safe. It’s our one check to keep our community safe,” she said.

Democratic Representative Linda Duba of Sioux Falls said she comes from “a gun family” but warned people were more likely to die from gunshot than vehicle accidents. She said guns can be forgotten in places where children find them.

“Remember guns don’t hurt people. People hurt people,” Republican Representative Carl Perry of Aberdeen said.

“We are not changing that much,” Qualm said in closing remarks. “We are getting rid of a little piece of paper if you don’t want to carry it.”

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