State Watch

South Dakota governor signs law to allow concealed handguns without a permit

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) on Thursday signed a law allowing residents to carry concealed handguns without a permit.

Noem, who just entered office earlier this month, signed the bill repealing the permit requirement that was passed by the state legislature, The Argus Leader reported.

She said she was "proud" that it was the first bill she signed as South Dakota governor.

"It's special for me to be signing a bill into law that protects our Second Amendment rights," Noem said.

The law, referred to by its proponents as "constitutional carry," gives South Dakotans to choose whether to obtain a concealed carry permit.

It does not change the restrictions around who is allowed to carry a concealed weapon, which excludes those with convictions for a felony, weapons related misdemeanor or for controlled substances, the newspaper previously reported.

The state already allows the permit-less open carry of weapons except in county courthouses, elementary or secondary schools or at establishments where the sale of alcohol is over one-half its total income.

The law will go into effect on July 1, making South Dakota the 14th state to allow constitutional carry.

Noem said after the bill signing that the constitutional carry was part of the "fundamental values" framed in the Constitution.

"I believe this legislation will further protect the Seconds Amendment rights of the citizens of South Dakota and this country," she said.

 

Democrats and law enforcement officials, including the South Dakota Sheriff's Association, opposed the measure and called for it to be limited to South Dakota residents.

A bill is currently under consideration in the state House that would restrict permitless concealed carry to residents, The Argus Leader reported.

According to a poll from the nonprofit gun safety group Everytown for Gun Safety released Tuesday, the vast majority of South Dakotans surveyed, 84 percent, said they support the state's existing concealed carry permit requirement.

Support for the permits appears to be bipartisan, according to the poll. Eighty-one percent of respondents who voted for President Trump and 92 percent of respondents who voted for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election support current requirements.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) celebrated the new law on Thursday.

 "This law is a common sense measure that allows law-abiding South Dakotans to exercise their fundamental right to self-protection in the manner that best suits their needs,"  Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA-ILA, said in a statement.

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