The South Dakota House showed a little common sense yesterday and killed House Bill 1206, which would have allowed individuals to carry concealed weapons on our public university campuses. But some Republicans couldn't let that happen without exposing their contempt for the university students from across the state who admirably mobilized, testified, and lobbied to kill this bill. Young voters, pay attention.

Rep. Scott Craig (R-33/Rapid City) rose to speak to the dying bill (around timestamp 1:09:30 in the SDPB audio). He said he could be inclined to vote against the bill, just because he thinks most college kids—not the righteous, upstanding youth whom he thinks would carry guns on campus, but all the rest of the kids—are drunk rapists:

I wish I saw an irate student body, the representatives of the student bodies in all of our universities and colleges, I wish they were irate about what is killing, not about what might or what could, which I think is a real stretch, but what is killing their peers right now. The date rape is just nuts. We have an out-of-control culture, period, and a big part of that is seen in a four-year party.

I am very concerned about that. Now I am not so concerned about students carrying guns on campus, given who I believe those students would be. At the same time, my concern about the current system, just the culture of college, it is a bar, in many respects it is like a bar, and it is against the law to bring a gun to a bar.

I voted yes for this in committee. I just might vote no on it simply because our young folks are out of control. There's a lot of drinking, and it's like bringing guns to a bar when you go to college [Rep. Scott Craig, floor debate on HB 1206, South Dakota House, Pierre, South Dakota, 2015.02.19].

Rep. Craig did vote to let students bring concealed weapons to their drunken four-year party.

HB 1206 sponsor Rep. Jim Stalzer (R-11/Sioux Falls) followed with his closing remarks. He said a fair amount of rot, but none more rotten than this blatant insult:

When I was in college, I actually had to go to class. I don't know how all these people are here today [Rep. Jim Stalzer, floor debate on HB 1206, South Dakota House, Pierre, South Dakota, 2015.02.19].

Rep. Stalzer chortled at his own comment, as did several of his colleagues. Stalzer and friends are laughing at you, students. They are ridiculing your effort to participate in the political process. They are ridiculing the sacrifice you made to miss class, drive three hours in the middle of winter, and try to persuade a bunch of people who apparently don't respect you to still vote in the interests of public safety on your campuses. They are ridiculing you, students, for daring to use your voice.

Young people, Republicans like Craig and Stalzer need to go. You need to remember these speeches made on the floor of the South Dakota House. You need to come out en masse to vote in 2016 and vote these men out of office.

p.s.: I remind you, students: every Democrat in the House voted against HB 1206. We Democrats don't talk about students that way. We Democrats respect your voice.


This winter, the South Dakota Legislature passed House Bill 1087, the fear- and hype- and gun-worship-driven school gunslinger bill. Since passage of that law, we've had one school shooting (an incident in which a teenager was horsing around outside with a pistol he thought was unloaded... an incident which the presence of school gunslingers would not have prevented and could quite possibly have made worse), but we haven't had a single school implement this policy:

Attorney General Marty Jackley, whose office is in charge of writing training rules for school sentinels, said a few school board members have asked about the program but no district has notified him that it's voted to use it ["SD Schools Slow to Use Law Allowing Armed Teachers," AP via Rapid City Journal, 2013.06.29].

How does the bill's sponsor explain this reluctance to imperil children with more firearms in school?

The bill's main sponsor, Rep. Scott Craig, R-Rapid City, said he expects school districts will take their time in deciding whether to embrace the program.

"Some folks are going to watch and see what it looks like the first year," Craig said [AP, 2013.06.29].

Watching to see what what looks like? If no one implements it, what's there to see? And why would anyone wait? The Legislature rushes ahead and passes bad education policy without evidence or attention to experts. Why on earth wouldn't school administrators and school boards, people who deal with education and their community's children directly, act with the same reckless haste? Gee, Scott, might there be a message there?

Rep. Craig keeps screaming safety!

"It's safety. It's the premise, the appearance of safety, that we protect that which we hold most valuable, which is our children," Craig said [AP, 2013.06.29].

It's nice that Rep. Scott admits his bill is just about appearances. Fortunately, your school boards and educators are committed to real safety policies:

Associations representing school boards, school administrators and teachers opposed the measure, saying they believe putting more guns in schools just makes them more dangerous.

"We still believe the schools are extremely safe places," said Rob Monson, executive director of the School Administrators of South Dakota.

Monson said he hasn't heard of any school district that's adopted the program, but schools are working to make entrances more secure and take other steps to improve safety [AP, 2013.06.29].

To sell his bill, Rep. Scott hyped fears of our children sitting in "defenseless" schools. Yet an RCJ report this morning cites a school safety expert who says schools are safer now than they were 30 years ago and that school shootings are about as big a concern as lightning strikes. Rep. Scott included the dog-whistle shout of terrorism in his original draft of HB 1087. As another RCJ report notes this weekend, South Dakota has no specific domestic or foreign terrorism threat. But that's how the South Dakota Legislature works: they manufacture fears to justify passage of ideologically motivated legislation that, given a choice, the experts in education don't want to use.


I wanted to give Pastor Scott Craig some credit. His break with wingnut Gordon Howie suggested he might be a rational legislator. But as I listen to the audio of yesterday's Senate State Affairs committee hearing on House Bill 1087, the school gunslinger bill, I hear the revival-tent flim-flammer I was afraid District 33 would get.

Rep. Rev. Scott Craig

With a flag this big, who needs facts?

Rep. Rev. Craig launches the Old Time Gunfire Gospel Hour at the 7:00 mark in SDPB's recording. He says that many media outlets have "misrepresented repeatedly" his bill. He then proceeds to misrepresent facts.

In response to the evidence that draconian security measures like guns in schools raise anxiety and harm education, Rep. Rev. Craig asserts that our anxiety is already raised by sitting in a "defenseless" setting. No school in South Dakota is defenseless. Every school in South Dakota has security measures in place. Adding armed teachers and janitors to schools does not magically change schools from "defenseless" to "fully defended." Adding guns increases the daily risk of harm while providing only iffy defense against something that has never happened in South Dakota.

Rep. Rev. Craig says that President Obama wants increased arms in schools. Rep. Rev. Craig thus implies that President Obama supports HB 1087. Hogwash. Read the White House's plan. President Obama supports spending real money to hire more properly trained resource officers and counselors to implement evidence-based policies to make schools even safer (which is darned hard when schools are already the safest place our kids can be, as acknowledged by Sen. Craig Tieszen in his testimony right before Rep. Rev. Craig). Nowhere has President Obama expressed support for Rep. Rev. Craig's plan to let schools arm their teachers and janitors and vounteers.

Rep. Rev. Craig trots out the malarkey that the President and his wife sleep well at night knowing their children attend a well-armed school. That's a lie: Sidwell Friends has no armed guards. The Quakers running the Obama children's school probably don't cotton much to the violence inherent in the weapons carried by their Secret Service detail, but even they probably recognize that the President's family is a unique national security target from which we cannot extrapolate any policy implications for South Dakota school children.

Rep. Rev. Craig talks about how the Holy Land has armed teachers keeping its kids safe. Hooonnnk—wrong again! Israeli teachers don't carry guns, certainly not in their classrooms. And Israel has much stricter gun control laws than the U.S.

Rep. Rev. Craig asserts that those of us who recognize the harms of guns in schools need this bill, since this bill guarantees that local school districts can decide to keep guns out. The verbal contortions here are almost kinky. One does not guarantee the right to a gun-free educational environment by empowering local government to take that right away. Right now as a parent and teacher, if I move to another district in South Dakota, I can rest assured that state law keeps my new school district from putting my daughter and myself at daily risk of firearms accidents. HB 1087 takes away that guarantee and requires that I engage in new political battles to secure my daughter's safety in every community I may enter.

Rep. Rev. Craig's revival-tent performance yesterday showed the House Bill 1087 is based hype and horsehockey. Five out of nine members of Senate State Affairs were unable to see around the horsehockey Rep. Rev. Craig shoveled in favor of his bill. Let's hope the full Senate is less prone to pulpitial hypnosis and can vote down the school gunslinger bill.


On the good side, Rep. Rev. Scott Craig (R-33/Rapid City) recognizes he's wrong about at least one thing in his school-gunslinger bill:

Remember that Rep. Hawks used to grade student papers for a living. She knows sloppy writing when she sees it.

As I pointed out when Craig's HB 1087 hit the hopper, "interface" is a toothless, meaningless word. If he's going to let school boards hand out guns to any willing, untrained adult, he at least needs to clarify what information school boards need to share with their local police.

Comments Off on Rep. Rev. Craig Agrees: School Gunslinger Bill Contains Sloppy Language

Rep. Rev. Scott Craig (R-33/Rapid City) has filed his guns-in-schools bill. House Bill 1087 is a mealy-mouthed local-control masquerade which opens the door for gun nuts to bully their local school boards into affirming their gun worship at the expense of our children.

Section 1 of HB 1087 authorizes local school boards to arm any employee, security officer, or volunteer in its buildings. Section 1 gives school boards "sole discretion" in creating free-fire zones. The Legislature demands no standards for training. HB 1087 requires no assessment of either the threats of "violent attack by any terrorist, criminal, deranged person, or other perpetrator of deadly force" that HB 1087 imagines or the real and immediate dangers of bringing loaded firearms into the school building. HB 1087 neither requires nor even suggests minimal safety standards for carrying and storing firearms and ammunition on school grounds. I'm not even sure this bill says a school board can't hand out weapons to students. And up in Rep. Betty Olson's neck of the woods (yes, she's a sponsor), I'm not sure the school board wouldn't do that.

Section 2 is a useless nod in the direction of safety and oversight. It says that, before implemented any guns-in-schools policy, a school board must "interface" with local law enforcement. I'm not even sure "interface" is a legislatively defined verb. But "interface" fails to specify that the school board provide any details or seek any advice about its janitor-gunslinger plan to the police. "Interface" as written could mean nothing more than the school board sends the sheriff donuts.

Section 2 does say that "Any material changes in the school sentinel program's personnel or protocols shall be reported to such law enforcement agency forthwith." (Forthwith? Seriously? Who wrote this bill?) But notice that, in another example of sloppy passive-voice writing, HB 1087 doesn't say who has to report those changes. The school board? The principal? The people packing heat? The local press? The Madville Times? This bill leaves local law enforcement hanging. HB 1087 leaves the local police with no guarantee that they will know who's packing heat in the school.

Good night—if we're going to do something as drastic as terrifying our children by surrounding them with cranky armed teachers (I'm scary enough just when I shout; imagine admitting to me you didn't do your homework while I polish my revolver at my desk), we should at least write an airtight bill with crystal-clear reporting requirements.

Section 3 at least provides a conscience clause, allowing me to opt-out of any teacher-gunslinger plan Spearfish might dream up (and they'd better not!). But HB 1087 ignores the fact that no educator, no adult of good conscience should carry a gun in school.

Send me the committee schedule, LRC. I may have to take a personal day and come to Pierre to tell you guys why this bill stinks.


Republican pastor Scott Craig is running for one of the House seats in District 33, which covers a swath of North Rapid City, reaches north to Black Hawk and Summerset, and reaches west into the Hills to Lakes Sheridan and Pactola. He's a newcomer to South Dakota, saying he's still acclimating to the climate here after moving from Hawaii a couple years ago. His newcomer status probably won't affect his electability as much as the big R behind his name: Democrats face an uphill climb anywhere west of Ellsworth Air Force Base, and only one Democrat, Robin Page, is challenging Craig and incumbent Republican Jackie Sly for the two District 33 House seats.

However, eleven other letters could drag down Craig's vote total: G-O-R-D-O-N H-O-W-I-E. Craig worked for Gordon Howie's doomed 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Pastor Craig spoke for the self-declared Tea Party champion in ads and on the campaign trail. He backed Howie's exhortation of pastors to break the law by endorsing his holy candidacy from the pulpit (although I don't think we ever got Craig or any other pastors on the record actually endorsing Howie mid-sermon). Even after Howie's trouncing in the primary, Craig contributed essays and sermons to Howie's Potemkin blogroll urging the unhealthy and unChristian ingling of church and state.

I assumed that Craig's candidacy was part of the great conservative Christian revolution that Howie fantasizes he is leading. So, apparently, have a number of other folks. Pastor Craig says that as he's out campaigning, folks will say, "Oh yeah, you're pals with Gordon, aren't you?"

Scott Craig wants you to know that's no longer the case. We chatted last night on the phone, and he said he is not a Gordon Howie guy. He says he cut himself off from Howie not long after Howie's 2010 primary defeat. If Craig views Howie as a force of any sort in West River politics, it is only as a negative force, one whose reputation only drags down candidates who risk associating with him. Craig's politics are still conservative, but they are his own, not Gordon Howie's.

Scott Craig just wants you to know that. Feel free to discuss Pastor Craig's disavowal of Gordon Howie today's "Liberty Lunch."


Isn't one pastor in Pierre enough?

The Secretary of State lists Scott W. Craig of Rapid City as a Republican candidate for District 33 House. Could that be Pastor Scott Craig, pal of Rapid City radical right-wingnut Gordon Howie? If so, District 33 can expect Pastor Scott to deliver all sorts of lies about President Obama and other matters mostly irrelevant to the practical business of governing South Dakota. Pastor Scott's parishioners can also expect the candidate to use his pulpit for his own political gain, since after all, it's God, not just Gordon, telling Pastor Scott to run and rectify this South Dakota Babylon.

District 33 has just two official candidates (the other is Republican incumbent Jackie Sly). If no one else files by 5 p.m. today, Pastor Scott won't have to campaign from the pulpit. If he does enjoy a free pass to Pierre, maybe he can one-up the good Rep. Rev. Steve Hickey by proposing a resolution to require students to study the Bible and taekwondo.


In proof of tea party devolution, Alan Keyes is coming to South Dakota. Rapid City Pastor Scott Craig gets so excited that he forgets to tell the truth.

In the introduction to an interview with Dr. Keyes, Pastor Craig says candidate Barack Obama promised to sign the Freedom of Choice Act as his first act as president. "And he did just that, and that Freedom of Choice Act was a sweeping bill designed to abolish all prolife regulations across the nation."

That's a lie. President Obama did not sign any such legislation during his first 100 days in office. It would have been wonderful if President Obama had signed such protection of women's rights to a legal medical procedure, but no such legislation was introduced in the first months of the Demoratically controlled 111th Congress. The Dems were apparently too darned busy fighting the recession and saving jobs (unlike their current Republican House counterparts). Pastor Craig's statement is simply false.

Pastor Craig is a pal of right-wingnut Gordon Howie, so perhaps he's used to making stuff up (like excuses for dodging property taxes). In the department of made-up resume-padding, Pastor Craig bills himself as public policy advisor for KLMP Radio. Right... just like my wife is public policy advisor for the Madville Times. Actually, she has a political science major; she's probably more qualified to advise public policy than Pastor Craig, who has two degrees in theology and a black belt in taekwondo.

Pastor Craig demonstrates his less-than-kung-fu grip on public policy in his "interview"—more a substanceless butt-kissing session to promote Keyes's appearance at Gordon Howie's Festival for Life dog-and-fetus show this weekend. It's too bad public policy advisor Craig was too overwhelmed at the telephonic presence of the great Alan Keyes to check the public policy facts behind his deceptive opening rhetoric.


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