PIERRE — Legislation allowing people to carry concealed handguns without a permit, sometimes called “Constitutional carry,” is headed to the South Dakota Senate floor for a vote.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Senate Bill 47 in a 4-3 vote on Thursday morning after spending more than an hour hearing testimony and discussing the issue. The concealed carry bill is similar to legislation proposed in previous sessions.
Proponents said it wouldn’t change who qualifies to carry a handgun in the state, only that they would no longer need to go through the process to receive a concealed carry permit from their local sheriff’s office.
“Essentially we’re being asked as law-abiding citizens to go to our county and seek to lease back our constitutionally protected right to bear firearms, and I think that’s inappropriate,” said the bill’s author, Sen. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark, adding that the bill won’t cause the state to become “the Wild West.”
Opponents said they were concerned it would eliminate law enforcement’s ability to know who can legally carry a handgun in the state, both South Dakota residents and visitors, and that the Second Amendment doesn’t mean residents have unlimited gun rights.
“Without the permit process, we don’t have any idea who’s carrying,” said South Dakota Sheriff’s Association spokesman Dick Tieszen.