I do not enjoy starting my day with an admission that Steve Sibson is right. But once again, the broken clock strikes true.
Last month, the House Judiciary committee killed HB 1015, a gun-nut bill that would have reduced carrying a concealed weapon without a permit to a secondary offense. That bill was a bad idea for various reasons, including the loss of a check on mentally ill people carrying pistols and the ability to arrest Hell's Angels and other criminal elements for possession of unpermitted handguns. But the main reason House Judiciary snuffed HB 1015 on January 20 was because certain legislators objected to the strongarm lobbying tactics of the South Dakota Gun Owners.
Mr. Sibson hollered that legislators were putting their pride over the merits of the bill. I didn't mind much, because the thin-skinnedness of legislators who don't think they can be told what to do or that someone's going campaign hard against them overlapped with good public policy. (Go ahead, call me inconsistent.)
But now House Judiciary and the full House have gone a step further than HB 1015. They've passed HB 1248, which completely exempts adult holders of South Dakota drivers licenses from four main concealed weapon statutes (listed here). Carrying a pistol in your pocket without a permit won't even be a secondary offense. If the police stop a criminal for any other infraction—smoking pot, disturbing the peace, dealing drugs, whatever—and they find a pistol in the patdown, they pretty much shrug and move on.
Two proponents spoke in favor of HB 1248 in committee last Thursday, sponsors Rep. Betty Olson and Senator Larry Rhoden. South Dakota Gun Owners kept their heads down, but they and Sibby must now chortle over this victory of gun mania over good policy.
Repealing gun permit laws won't make us safer. Getting a concealed weapons permit in South Dakota is already pretty easy, a hardly noticeable blip of effort relative to the cost of acquiring a new firearm. HB 1248 only makes it harder for law enforcement to collar bad guys.
More importantly, HB 1248 reinforces the fallacious belief that letting more people carry guns wherever and whenever they want somehow solves any real problems our society faces. Repealing gun permit laws won't create more jobs. It won't improve kids test scores. It won't get anyone out of poverty. It won't make life practically better for anyone.