February 10, 2017
PIERRE, SD – Gun control measures have been gaining ground in some places around the nation in recent years. In the more urban areas of the country and along the coasts, people are more wary, and perhaps fearful, of guns. That may be why some states pass very restrictive gun laws. For instance, in New Jersey a citizen cannot even own a handgun, rifle or shotgun without a permit or Firearms Purchaser Identification Card. In some states, obtaining a concealed carry permit can take months. In Maryland and California, an individual has to prove a need to be granted a concealed carry permit.
South Dakota is a state that respects the Second Amendment. A great many of our citizens own pistols, rifles and shotguns. Here, guns are as common as saddles and pickups. Many of us grew up hunting or on farms or ranches where we needed to be able to handle a gun. Most importantly, we understand that law-abiding individuals should be able to defend themselves.
As a lifetime member of the NRA, I support the right to bear arms. I own a rifle, a pistol, and more than one shotgun. I am happy to be governor of a state that still respects that right and I am proud of our current gun laws.
South Dakotans do not need a permit to purchase a firearm in our state. The firearm requirements we have in state law are few and reasonable. One such requirement is that if you want to carry a concealed pistol – under your coat, for example – you must obtain a permit. You pay $10 and undergo a background check. The background check is a safety measure to identify applicants who may not be eligible to carry a concealed weapon because they have a criminal record or a history of mental instability. Barring those few exceptions, it’s easy and cheap, and it usually takes only a few days to receive a permit. My friend Matt said he spent five minutes at the sheriff’s window, paid his $10 and three days later had his permit.
There are a number of bills being considered this legislative session that would alter our state’s common sense gun laws. A couple of those bills are deceptively labeled as “constitutional carry” bills.
House Bill 1072, for example, would eliminate the permit requirement in order to carry a concealed weapon. Under this bill, the vetting process would be removed. Individuals with a proven history of violence or substance abuse and those who have been identified as a danger to the public or to themselves could not be restricted from carrying a firearm. If this bill becomes law, it will create confusion for law enforcement who will still seek to ascertain whether an individual is lawfully concealing a weapon. Innocent citizens could be detained by law enforcement and subjected to time-consuming criminal and mental health background checks.
I am proud of South Dakota’s traditions and pro-Second Amendment track record. Just as I do not support gun control measures, I cannot support bad legislation which would lead to a whole host of unintended consequences. The laws we currently have in place are effective, appropriate and minimal.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was an ardent defender of constitutional rights and a staunch conservative. In one of his last opinions, Scalia referenced concealed permits. He stated unequivocally that “like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited,” and he affirmed that concealed weapons permit laws are not an affront to our Second Amendment rights.
On this issue, I’m with Justice Scalia.