A bill that would eliminate the concealed carry permit process for South Dakota residents is scheduled for a hearing in the state Senate Wednesday.
House Bill 1072 passed the state House of Representatives last Thursday by a vote of 37 to 30.
In South Dakota, no state permits are required to possess a gun. According to the South Dakota Firearm Laws, “A person does not need a permit to own a pistol, keep it in his home, business, or property, or visibly carry it.”
A permit is currently required, however, to carry a firearm hidden by a coat or in a purse. Concealed carry permits can be obtained from the sheriff in the county a resident lives in.
Supporters of the bill say it’s a Constitutional right to carry a gun even if concealed, while those opposed believe it provides too much freedom and could pose a safety risk.
Austin Thompson, a sophomore criminal justice major, said he’s noticed several states moving towards similar legislation.
“Personally, I am very much pro-gun and pro-Constitution, and so my view is that the Second Amendment was written without restrictions, so therefore that means that the people ought to be armed,” he said.
Thompson said he hopes to have a career in law enforcement as a criminal investigator. He has his own concealed carry permit, and said he carries a firearm almost anytime he’s off campus.
“The way I view it is that the people who are already carrying firearms are the ones who are licensed to carry firearms and they’re the good, law-abiding concealed carriers,” he said. “They’re there to protect you. And that is their motive, is to protect you and protect their family, and that’s why they’re carrying.”
Junior Jordan Hanson, a political science major and vice president of College Republicans, said she doesn’t believe the bill is as big of a deal as some people have made it.
“I don’t really think that this is a very invasive bill. We’ve seen some pretty dramatic things come out of the House and Senate before, and I think that this is pretty minimal, to say the least,” she said. “It’s just the difference between having the piece of paper that says that you can carry or not, because you still have to meet all the requirements.”
Clay County representative Ray Ring (D), voted against the bill last week.
“I think anybody who wants to carry a weapon ought to at least have to have gone through some kind of screening in order to be allowed to do that,” he said.
Ring said this bill could have negative implications for a college town like Vermillion, or any place where a lot of drinking is happening.
“Anytime you have alcohol involved and people are able to carry a gun even without any kind of screening, is I think just… reduces the safety of being out and about,” he said.
Thompson said people who are carrying firearms should be responsible enough to not carry under the influence.
“People who are carrying are typically responsible individuals,” he said. “I mean, it’s a law that you can’t carry a firearm when you’re intoxicated already, so that’s already a law that’s on South Dakota’s books.”
Thompson said the argument that criminals would have more access to firearms doesn’t make sense to him.
“They’re not going to get a permit to carry a firearm, they’re just going to carry the firearm,” he said. “And it’s not going to affect them at all because criminals by law don’t follow the law.”
Hanson said she doesn’t believe this would affect overall safety in South Dakota.
“The safety concern is still the same,” she said. “So I don’t think it increases the safety concern by allowing people to not have to have the piece of paper, because they would still have to meet all the requirements in order to conceal carry.”
When it comes to gun ownership, Hanson said she’s “pretty hands off.”
“At the point where you own I gun, I think you have taken enough precautions or at least understanding of knowing what it means to own a firearm,” she said. “And so I think that if you’re making that conscious decision you’ve already thought about what it means.”
Governor Dennis Daugaard has said that he will veto the bill.
“The firearm requirements we have in state law are few and reasonable,” Daugaard said in a letter to the Argus Leader.
Ring said he hopes the bill won’t get so far that it has to be vetoed.
“Hopefully it’ll get to the Senate and cooler heads will prevail,” he said, adding that he doesn’t believe the bill will have enough support to override a veto.
Because obtaining a permit in the state isn’t difficult, Thompson said he doesn’t understand Daugaard’s motivation to veto the bill.
“I understand his reasoning as to why he’d want to veto it,” he said, “but I don’t think that it makes sense to veto a law like this.”