South Dakota Gov. Shoots Down Constitutional Carry Bill, House Upholds Veto

Last Friday, Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard vetoed a bill that would have made South Dakota the fifth state to legalize Constitutional (permit-less) carry. 

House Bill 1248 would have allowed residents 18 and older with a valid state drivers’ license and a trouble-free history (no felony convictions, no ‘history of violence,’ no mental illness, etc.) to carry a concealed handgun without a permit. 

Citing that the state’s issuance standards and requirements are already “fair and reasonable,” Daugaard shot down the measure. 

daugaard-pic-2-concealed-carry“Each year, locally-elected sheriffs deny permits, in most cases because the applicant has a serious criminal history,” Daugaard wrote in his veto statement.

“Under this bill, those who are prohibited from carrying a concealed weapon would no longer be informed of that fact. Understandably, law enforcement officials from across South Dakota have objected to this bill,” he added. 

Daugaard also said that the bill would complicate police procedure, as it would still be illegal for one to possess a concealed firearm if he/she had a troubled history.  Therefore, he argued, situations could arise where individuals carrying concealed are detained while police look into their backgrounds to make sure they’re lawful residents.   

The South Dakota’s Sheriffs Association applauded the Gov.’s veto.  Sheriff Mike Milstead of Minnehaha County fully supported the decision. 

“The current process we have for issuing concealed carry permits is very easy and helps us to identify people who, because of mental health issues or criminal convictions, shouldn’t be carrying a concealed weapon or issued a concealed carry permit,” Milstead said.

“The bill as it was written was going to eliminate that process and have people more or less self regulate whether or not they were qualified to carry,” he continued. 

Milstead told USA Today that his office issues about 2,000 permits a year, and denies roughly 30 to 40 applications.

concealed-carry-sd“It’s that small group who are denied that I am most worried about with this bill,” he said. “Those are the people who actually took the time to come down to the sheriff’s office, applied and thought they would be issued a permit when in fact they had a disqualifier. I think what we have now is a good system of checks and balances.”

On Monday, lawmakers in the state House reconvened to determine whether they should overturn the governor veto of House Bill 1248. 

Despite the fact that the state House had initially passed the bill by a vote of 50-18 on Feb. 13, the vote to override the veto (27-40) fell short of the two-thirds majority (47) needed to uphold HB 1248 as law.    

What caused so many lawmakers to change course? 

Rep. Gene Abdallah (R-Sioux Falls) told the Republic.com, that he supported the bill when the House first passed it because he thought the Senate would change the bill to make sure law enforcement officials could prevent people with criminal histories or mental problems from carrying hidden guns.

Abdallah, a former law enforcement officer added that he is a strong supporter of people’s rights to bear arms, and said “the Legislature can pass another version of the bill next year that does a better job of protecting public safety.”

“This bill needs a lot of work,” Abdallah added.

concealed-carry-bagUpon reviewing the Gov.’s remarks, others came to the conclusion that the bill should be defeated because it could lead to tougher gun control. 

“If the bill had passed, and someone had gone to a sporting event and killed a bunch of people, the public might have demanded that the Legislature put more restrictions on guns,” Rep. Charlie Hoffman (R-Eureka) told the Republic.com.

But perhaps skeptics of Constitutional carry should speak to lawmakers and residents in the four states that have legalized it: Alaska, Arizona, Vermont and Wyoming.

Christopher Lynch, who manages Wyoming’s concealed carry firearms program, said that he too expected the law to create problems when it went into effect, but it hasn’t. 

“I’ve been looking for problems,” Lynch told USA Today. “I really haven’t encountered any. I haven’t heard anything from the sheriffs and chiefs.”

Cover Photo Courtesy of Chet Brokaw/AP Photo