Oh joy. District 6 sends conservative Republican Ernie Otten to represent them in the Senate, and what's the first thing he does? Gets together with Rep. Lance Russell (R-30/Hot Springs) to write a gunslingers' bill.

Well, they didn't really write a bill; they just recycled (how green of you conservatives!) two bills that last year's Legislature made to nullify South Dakota's concealed weapons laws. Last year, Rep. Russell and some conservative pals tried to give pistol packers a pass with a bill that would have exempted all law-abiding citizens from our four primary concealed weapons laws. That bill died in committee. Then they tried to exempt any adult with a valid South Dakota driver's license. That bill made it to the Governor's desk, where Governor Daugaard vetoed it for conservative reasons, calling it a "solution searching for a problem."

Apparently Rep. Russell and Sen. Otten want to play this game again. Despite the fact that no one has demonstrated that South Dakota's concealed weapons laws (SDCL 22-14-9, 22-14.9.1, 22-14-9.2, and 22-14-10) have created any undue burden on our Second Amendment rights, the usual wingnuts feel we need to annul those laws, this time through House Bill 1010. The trick this time: Otten and Russell want to exempt from concealed weapons restrictions "any person who may legally possess a firearm under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) (1-9)." That's the federal law that prohibits criminals, fugitives, drug users, the mentally disabled, illegal immigrants, folks here on non-immigrant visas, dishonorably discharged soldiers, folks who've renounced their U.S. citizenship, folks under certain court orders, and convicted domestic abusers from possessing firearms.

Read that bill carefully: conservatives Otten and Russell, whom I take it prefer states' rights on issues of their choosing, want federal law to take precedence over our state statutes on concealed weapons.

Ernie, Lance, let me ask you something: if you really think our concealed weapons laws are a hassle, why go through such contortions to undermine them? Why not just float a bill to repeal SDCL 22-14-9 through 22-14-10? Heck, why not just repeal all of Chapter 23-7, which requires among other things that you register with the sheriff and pay ten bucks for the pleasure of carrying your pistol in your pocket? Oh, the inhumanity!

Russell and Otten include another condition in HB 1010, saying that the police cannot stop and search you just because they see you have a pistol on you. Under that rule, if the police see me walking down the street with a pistol in my hand and a determined look in my eye, they cannot stop me and ask where I'm going with that peashooter.

Scared yet? You should be.

The no-search-no-detention clause is perhaps an effort to overcome Governor Daugaard's veto concern last year that the bill that reached his desk would have resulted in police detaining concealed weapons permit holders more frequently. However, the other conditions of the Governor's veto from last year are still strong enough to torpedo this bill.

Leave the concealed weapons laws alone, fellas. They work fine. Nullifying them puts us all at greater risk.