South Dakota residents will be allowed to carry concealed handguns without a permit under a bill passed by the state legislature that is now awaiting the Governor’s approval or veto.
If Governor Kristi Noem signs the bill, South Dakota will become the 14th state to allow residents to carry firearms without a specific permit—sometimes called “constitutional carry.”
The S. Dakota House passed the bill by 47-23 in the Republican-dominated chamber on Jan. 29. Noem has until Jan. 6 to decide whether or not to veto the bill.
“The governor has repeatedly voiced her support of constitutional carry and looks forward to reviewing the bill when it arrives at her desk,” a spokesperson for the governor’s office, Kristin Wileman, told Rapid City.
If she vetos it, the bill will return to the House, where a two-thirds majority can override the veto, casting it into law. The previous voting outcome provided exactly the bare minimum required to inch the bill over that two-thirds threshold.
The 70-strong chamber consists of 59 Republicans and just 11 Democrats.
It is a misdemeanor to carry a concealed pistol or to have one concealed in a vehicle without a permit under current South Dakota law, although openly carrying a firearm is allowed.
The bill was put forward by Rep. Lee Qualm.
‘Not Trying to Create the Wild West’
The bill’s co-sponsor, Senate President Pro Tempore Brock Greenfield, said people are being asked to “lease back” their constitutionally protected right to bear firearms under the current system.
“We’re not trying to create a situation in which South Dakota is the Wild West,” Greenfield said, according to AP. “We’re simply trying to create a situation in which we recognize that the Second Amendment is paramount and will not be infringed.”
Other supporters of the bill say current laws mean that merely slipping on a coat and accidentally covering a gun could land them with a misdemeanor charge, and that the permit process impedes upon Second Amendment rights.
The much-debated Second Amendment states: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
The South Dakota Sheriffs’ Association testified that they don’t oppose permit-less concealed carry, according to The Argus Leader, but would rather it apply to only South Dakota residents.
The 13 states that currently allow permit-less concealed carry are: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Technically, Connecticut requires a concealed carry permit, according to the NRA, but since it generally grants them to all law-abiding citizens it is sometimes included on the list.
There were roughly 107,000 pistol permits in South Dakota in November, according to the Secretary of State’s office, AP reported.