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Legislature Kills Time-Wasting Guns Amendment, Against Sen. Olson’s Wishes

One of the more useless bits of gun-nut flotsam gurgling around Pierre went down the drain last week. Senate Joint Resolution 3 would have put to voters the following change to Article VI, Section 24 of our state constitution:

§ 24. The fundamental right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be denied infringed. Any restriction of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.

Adding fundamental has about the same practical impact as putting right in bold print. A good lawyer should be able to argue that infringing your right to bear arms is the same as denying it. And I would assume that if we're all doing our jobs, the Attorney General, the courts, and the press are already subjecting restrictions of rights to strict scrutiny.

Senate State Affairs voted Wednesday to kill this time-wasting word game 7–1. Senate Majority Leader Russell Olson (R-8/Wentworth) cast the only vote for SJR 3. That's Senator Russell Olson, who has often intoned that he doesn't go to Pierre to write a whole bunch of new legislation that we don't need.


  1. Richard Schriever 2013.02.10

    Oh come on - like the other guns legislation writers - he "NEEDS" this as evidence of solidarity to make sure he keeps getting campaign $$$ from the gun lobby.

  2. Rorschach 2013.02.10

    Cory, you don't grasp the legal significance of the language changes that were proposed. Adding "fundamental" and "strict scrutiny," and changing "denied" to "infringed" would have made it easier for anyone to challenge gun regulations in state court.

    This would not have been a meaningless change as you suggest. And in any other context would you suggest that "infringing" is the same as "denying"? Whites in the old confederacy states found more creative ways to keep blacks away from the polls than outright denial. Instead they "infringed" on voting rights by imposing literacy tests and poll taxes. Much like the GOP is attempting to do now with their voter ID bills to discourage and impede voting. Denial is blatant, whereas infringement is subtle, infinitely more defensible - and deniable. Infringement is like raising cigarette taxes rather than banning smoking.

    Can you see why the gun groups want to ban "infringement" rather than "denial?"

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.02.10

    Ah, so there is legal precedent to distinguishing "deny" and "infringe"? But what about "strict scrutiny"? Does that phrase have some precedential weight not granted by the current right-to-bear-arms clause?

  4. Steve Sibson 2013.02.11

    So what needs to be done is simple. Have the legislators honor their oath of office and support, defend and honor Constitutional rights. Federal gun-free zones are not valid.

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