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Who Should Have Guns at the Capitol: Legislators, Everyone, or No One?

Betty Olson has her name on another gun bill! Whoo-hoo!

Actually, Senator Brock Greenfield (R-2/Clark) is leading the way on Senate Bill 162, a proposal to allow legislators to carry concealed weapons in the State Capitol.

Freeze, Brock—tell us the last time you or any other legislator experienced a threat in the Capitol that would have warranted response with a firearm. If you can cite any such instance of clear and present threat, tell us the last time state troopers were not available to handle said threat.

Conservatives like Greenfield, Olson, and its House sponsors DiSanto, Latterell, Russell, and Stalzer should revolt at a bill like Senate Bill 162. Isn't a situation where only the government has guns exactly the tyranny gun nuts dread?

Imagine I approach Senator Corey Brown at the Capitol for a sincere Cory-to-Corey chat about how his efforts to undermine Independents and ballot initiatives are unjust (and about how he spells his name wrong). After a few moments of looking past me, he opens his jacket, exposes the pistol holstered under his shoulder, and says, "I'm sorry—are you talking to me?" Legislative immunity won't excuse Brown's shooting me, but I'm not sure I like the power imbalance.

If we're going to let legislators swagger about the Capitol packing heat, doesn't fairness (not to mention Sean Connery in The Untouchables) demand that we let everyone carry a gun? Ah ha! In comes House Bill 1183, where Olson and Greenfield switch sponsor slots and call for repealing the entire ban on concealed weapons in the Capitol. I think they're just trying to trick us into "compromise."

But HB 1183 exposes another aspect of gun-advocate thinking that I don't get. HB 1183 removes the Capitol from the general ban on guns in courthouses, but then it writes a new statute that makes it a misdemeanor to carry a pistol in the Capitol unless you carry it concealed, under a concealed weapons permit. Why would you make it a crime to openly carry a gun into the Capitol but not to sneak a gun in in your britches (or, in Senator Olson's case, your mountain lion-skin purse)?

The State Capitol, our great Temple of Democracy and Reason, is no place for guns. Both House Bill 1883 and Senate Bill 162 are expressions of unwarranted fear and a lack of faith in our institutions of civil society. Senate Bill 162 is gun control at its worse, where only outlaws and legislators have guns. (I invite you to discern which are which.)

p.s.: I can imagine a similar critique of Senate Bill 105, in which Senator Betty Olson and numerous co-sponsors asked that legislators be given access to the Capitol complex tunnels. If legislators get to venture into the underworld, so ought we all! Senator Olson withdrew SB 105 yesterday; I say bring it back, bigger and better, for all South Dakotans!


  1. larry kurtz 2015.01.31

    What's not to like here? With some luck they'll finish each other off: done.

  2. Bob Newland 2015.01.31

    If the stupid bastards keep proposing bills like Brown's recent one on doubling signature requirements for ballot issues, they are going to incite the villagers with pitchforks and torches. And, yes, guns.

  3. Greg 2015.01.31

    Brock Greenfield couldn't even handle a water pistol.

  4. Roger Cornelius 2015.01.31

    I would support this bill with a caveat that says all hearings, caucuses, and voting requires the legislators to gather in a circle so their targets will be easier.

    What a great way to get rid of a Republican legislature.

  5. Roger Elgersma 2015.01.31

    A hundred years ago when the capital was in Yankton, one legislator threatened another with a gun to vote his way. I do not remember for sure if that happened in the state house or a bar. But that legislator was kept in jail for the next whole legislative session except for ten minutes for each vote.
    How much pressure is put on to keep the wagons in a circle. I am sure most of them are honest good people, but it does not take many problems and someone wants to defend themselves.
    But we can not assume that all ones fears come from being in the legislature. Because when a lady was testifying on the shared parenting bill, Betty Olson was adamant that the lady was forced to say what she did. The person testifying stated that what she was saying had happened in another state with a previous husband. But Betty has an attitude that people say and do what they are terrorized into saying and doing. So this is quite possibly an attitude that Betty has from some previous experience in her life.

  6. grudznick 2015.01.31

    How about a law bill that says only the minority party legislatures can carry? You libbies should like that. Think about it. The wing nuts would register as democrats swelling your ranks until the parties evened out and they'd be teetering like a gravy boat. Caucuses would be destroyed. Guns save the day.

  7. Owen 2015.01.31

    good idea Grud

  8. Diana 2015.01.31

    Wonder how many times Betty Olson has had to be reminded about not bringing her gun, or does she just keep forgetting she has it?

  9. Tim 2015.01.31

    A circle firing squad with Daugaard in the middle. I've been in those tunnels, no big deal. lol

  10. mike from iowa 2015.01.31

    The mating call of responsible gun owners-I forgot I had that.

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.31

    Grudz, you know that I lead the Gandhi party. We would go in as a minority surrounded by armed imperialists, speak the truth, and dare them to shoot.

    Diana, we need to remind Betty that if she has a gone, she should be mindful of it at all times.

  12. MC 2015.01.31

    Why stop there? Let's go for broke. EVERY man woman and child over 16 MUST carry a loaded gun every where. and everyone in the state must tour the tunnels under the capitol. then seal them for 10 years.

    problem solved, now what was that about Jolene's law?

  13. larry kurtz 2015.01.31

    Sidearms for the preborn!

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.31

    MC, I want that tunnel tour. I will not require an armed guard.

  15. Disgusted Dakotan 2015.01.31

    Careful on that tour CAH! PP@SDWC says the tunnels were closed due to smoking and illicit romantic rendezvouses occurring! With all those Constitutional Officers' staff having no elections to work on for their bosses, they very well may be roaming the tunnels in packs!

    If you go, have Senator Betty Olson accompany you so she can ward them off with her side arm!

    I can understand the pushback on issuing all those legislators access cards, it would be a real mood killer to have them traipsing through the tunnels at an inconvienant time.

  16. larry kurtz 2015.01.31

    SDSU is honeycombed with steam tunnels from the Age of Coal and physical plants. Those under Pierre is where Kristi honed her ability to suck the chrome from John's Boehner.

  17. mike from iowa 2015.01.31

    Jolene was the chick with flaming locks of auburn hair stealing Dolly Parton's man in a song.

  18. Bob Newland 2015.01.31

    Seriously, there is nothing preventing someone from carrying a concealed weapon into the Capitol now. I was there Monday, I saw. So, what would the proposed law change?

  19. Joan Brown 2015.01.31

    I don't think it is necessary for anybody to be able to carry concealed or open carry weapons. There is getting to be way too many guns around, all over.

  20. leslie 2015.01.31

    stupidest thing i have ever heard. these guys are grown-ups?

  21. mhs 2015.01.31

    Every kid who ever went to Pierre Junior High in 19 . . ., er, a certain era, knew how to get in the tunnel in the Foss building, get over to the capitol, through the old steam plant and under Broadway street to the DOT building. Made that long cold walk home a little easier.

  22. jerry 2015.01.31

    The legislators will probably need those pee shooters when the SCOTUS ruling comes down regarding the ACA. If they put an end to it, the insurance companies are gonna be looking to lynch them for not doing anything to put a plan together.

  23. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.02.01

    MHS, I support a concurrent resolution honoring those Pierre Junior High alums for their bravery and resourcefulness and calling on the South Dakota Legislature to restore that liberty those children once knew. Supporting this resolution will be by far the most significant yes vote any one of us can cast this session.

  24. mike from iowa 2015.02.01

    Pick me,pick me. As an outsider who doesn't belong to the NRA,I can objectively pick out the "right" varmints what need shooting.

  25. mike from iowa 2015.02.01

    BTW,what's not to like about me. I can't acquire the front sight AND the target with my dominant right eye,so I have to shoot "left" handed.

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