Rep. Betty Olson (R-28A/Prairie City) exposed her own ignorance and irresponsibility when it comes to her pet gun proposals and her own gun-carrying habits.
Rep. Olson testified before House State Affairs this morning in support of her House Bill 1117, an ill-advised proposal to force schools and courthouses to pay for metal detectors and extra staff whenever they post "gun-free zone" signs. The brevity of her testimony suggested she knew her silly little bill was going nowhere.
The hypocrisy of imposing an unfunded mandate on local governments to notify citizens of state law forbidding guns from their premises is obvious to everyone but Rep. Olson. Committee member Rep. Brian Gosch asked whether Rep. Olson cared to address the conflict between her bill and SDCL 22-14-26, which requires counties to post notices that guns are prohibited in courthouses. Rep. Olson played the cute but clueless grandma, saying the lawyers on the committee knew more about the law than she and claiming that she thought her bill would automatically remove any conflicting statutes. HB 1117 consists of one sentence. It does not repeal or even mention any other statutes. Her bill would thus mandate that counties spend thousands of dollars on metal detectors and gun-check staff.
Perhaps feeling sorry for the poor woman, Rep. Brian Gosch attempted to shift the blame to the Legislative Research Council for not informing Rep. Olson of the conflicts in state law. But it's hard to blame the LRC, which is busy dealing with the extra work caused by SB 70 to prepare real legislation, for simply passing along Rep. Olson's latest gun-but time-waster. Rep. Olson is not a lawyer, but liek every legislator, she crafts laws, and she has as much obligation as anyone else in Pierre to understand the ramifications of the words she tries to write into South Dakota Codified Law.
Rep. Olson then demonstrated that we can't trust her with a gun, let alone gun laws. She told the committee, with what sounded annoyingly like pride ("I would love to answer that one," she purred) that she has "accidentally" brought her concealed weapon in the Capitol a couple of times. She says she knows of a few other legislators who have "accidentally" forgotten the guns in their pockets and brought their guns into the Capitol. She admitted that that forgetfulness, if caught, could have cost her a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
Forget the law; let's just talk responsible gun ownership. If you carry a deadly weapon, you have a heightened obligation to be constantly aware of the presence of that deadly weapon. You have to be constantly aware of your surroundings, constantly watching for threats and the possibility of attacks or accidents that could result in your weapon firing. Rep. Olson fails to show that awareness.
Concealed-carry advocates like Rep. Olson insist that they are law-abiding, responsible gun handlers. Her testimony to House State Affairs proves she is neither law-abiding nor responsible. Her concealed weapons permit should be revoked immediately; her seat in the Legislature should be revoked in November.
House State Affairs killed HB 1117 on a 13–0 vote.