Senate Bill 122 moves past committee hearing, colleges concerned
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Senate Bill 122 moves past committee hearing, colleges concerned

The South Dakota Judiciary Committee voted to advance Senate Bill 122 to the Senate floor on Tuesday.

SB 122 will “restrict the enactment of policies governing the possession of firearms at a public institution of higher education.”

Essentially, if passed, this bill will forbid the Board of Regents, South Dakota Board of Technical Education or any institution under their control, to adopt any rules or regulations related to firearms on college campuses.

Higher education institutions will require by law to follow the limitations and regulations the state has for firearms on campuses.

Sen. Stace Nelson, the bill sponsor, said he thinks students should have the right to arm themselves while at school.

“We’ve got students in the state of South Dakota that are concerned about their constitutional right to defend themselves,” Nelson said. “When looking at my constitutional duties as a state senator, in regard to this bill, it’s obvious that I have a duty and an obligation to support, defend, these law-abiding students’ rights to bear arms and defend themselves.”

According to KOTA TV, the Board of Regents and student officials opposed the measure.

USD Student Government Association, passed an emergency Senate legislation at last week’s meeting, opposing SB 122. According to the resolution, students, faculty and administrators have reservations with firearms in a college setting, especially mixed with alcohol.

“Alcohol plays a large factor in the college experience, regardless of location, and firearms and alcohol should never coincide with one another. Especially at an institution of learning that our students call home,” the resolution states.

SGA testified the committee reading of SB 122 on Tuesday. Josh Sorbe, SGA president, said the result of the committee was “disappointing to say the least.”

“The final vote is not reflective of the sheer amount of engagement and support on each side,” Sorbe said.  “We will keep fighting to represent students and contact senators as this bill makes its way to the floor.”

Currently, the Board of Regents policies prohibits firearms on campuses and has little exceptions.

SB 122 is scheduled to be read on the Senate floor later this month.