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Russell Olson Ignores Foreigners’ Rights

State Senate Majority Leader Russell Olson (R-8/Wentworth) demonstrates his weak grasp of the Constitution, not to mention lack of South Dakota hospitality. In response to questions about an ACLU lawsuit challenging South Dakota's discriminatory restriction on non-citizens obtaining concealed weapons permits, Senator Olson says foreigners aren't his concern:

Senate Republican Leader Russell Olson, of Wentworth, said his main priority is preserving gun rights for U.S. citizens.

"I'll fight for the rights of the citizens of South Dakota," Olson said Friday. "My concern is for the citizens of our state and our nation."

"Foreign nationals don't fall under my umbrella," he added in a separate interview [Nomaan Merchant, "S.D. Concealed Weapons Law Eyed," AP via Yankton Press & Dakotan, 2011.01.17].

Um... check your oath, Russ, and check the Constitution: the Fourteenth Amendment that you've sworn to uphold says that we don't deny any person within our jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. We're not talking about letting foreigners vote or run for office. We're talking about protecting them a basic right to protect their own life and property with a firearm, something that I thought Senator Olson and the NRA and all the other gun advocates held as a fundamental human right, not a mere perk of citizenship.

Besides, Senator Olson hasn't hesitated to extend his legislative umbrella to foreigners on other issues. In 2008, he voted to exempt foreign dairy corporations from South Dakota's Family Farm Act (SDCL 47-9A-1 and 47-9A-3). While campaigning for State Senate, Olson touted the increased milk production that has resulted in part from the infusion of foreign capital and entrepreneurs in South Dakota's dairy industry.

"Foreign nationals don't fall under my umbrella" seems a particularly impolitic if not contradictory statement for a state senator and economic development specialist who surely wants to encourage folks from elsewhere to come do business in our fair state. Our state doesn't sound very fair when we deny basic legal protections to foreigners who follow our laws and pay our taxes.