Gunfight in Pierre

There were no firearms visible in the Capitol Building on “Veto Day,” but there was a gunfight. In fact, there were 2 gunfights.

The final day of the legislative session is commonly known as Veto Day. In the official calendar it’s described as “Reserved for the consideration of gubernatorial vetoes.” This year, while there were 3 non-gun related bills vetoed by the Governor and 1 new bill introduced (and passed), it was all about guns. Really it was all about executive power and passionate advocacy of gun rights in South Dakota.

All the “shooters” were present. The Governor was represented by highly placed members of his staff seen working hard in the halls of the magnificent building while the National Rifle Association, National Association for Gun Rights and South Dakota Gun Owners lobbyists were present and active.

The Senate convened first and failed to override the vetoes of SB 33 (a bill to revise the State’s education funding formula for special education) and SB 164 (a bill to revise juvenile probationary periods) but then voted to suspend the rules to consider a brand new bill on the same issue (SB 179) to grant more flexibility in juvenile offenders probationary periods which they then passed nearly unanimously. The Senate then stood in recess pending the outcome of the House “gunfights.”

First there was HB 1156, the so-called Capitol Carry Bill that would allow firearms in the Capitol Building (except for the Supreme Court areas) with the Enhanced Concealed Carry Permit. Proponents fired away that the employees in the Building asked for their personal protection on a year-long basis when the Legislature is not in session. Representative Julie Frye-Mueller (D30), glancing at the gallery above, declared “We are in a fish bowl down here,” referring to the House floor while opponents spoke of their faith in the current Capitol security. The override attempt failed by 5 votes.

The main event was the consideration of HB 1072, the Constitutional Carry Bill that would allow for concealed carry of firearms in the State of South Dakota without a Concealed Carry Permit. A passionate, powerful and articulate floor speech was delivered by the prime sponsor, Lynne DiSanto (D35) in which she revealed that the 2 announced candidates for Governor in 2018, U.S. Representative Kristi Noem and Attorney General Marty Jackley, and the 2 announced candidates for U.S. House in 2018, Secretary of State Shantel Krebs and Dusty Johnson all were in favor of this bill. She warned that those voting against the override would be exposed publicly as anti-Second Amendment rights by the powerful NRA and others. Representative Dan Kaiser (D3), a law enforcement officer, declared “Free people don’t ask permission to do what’s right,” in support of the override. The override attempt failed by 11 votes.

Executive power prevailed once again, however the Constitutional Carry proponents are as energized as ever, especially in the knowledge that the current candidates for Governor have both made public statements in support of their pro-Second Amendment position.

The “gunfights” having been decided, the House then upheld the veto of HB 1149 (a bill to reduce a telecommunications tax) but passed the new bill (SB 179) to allow more flexibility for the courts to extend probationary periods for juvenile offenders.

I was honored to extend Family Heritage Alliance Action’s gratitude to many legislators for their service to our Great State and to thank many of them for their support of our Faith, Family and Freedom issues.