Senator Jeff Monroe (R-24/Pierre) made crystal clear what all the guns bills in South Dakota's Legislature are really about. The Pierre Senator opened his commentary on Senate Bill 162, the Capitol gunslinger bill, with this statement:
I can see both sides of this, I could vote both ways, one to keep my rating, and the other to try to keep things with the way the state patrol goes [Senator Jeff Monroe, Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, South Dakota Legislature, 2015.02.12, timestamp 44:18].
Keep my rating—as in NRA rating. Senator Monroe cast the sole vote in favor of SB 162, indicating that for him, keeping his NRA rating up is more important than listening to the expert security assessment of the South Dakota Highway Patrol. Senator Monroe places your physical safety behind his electoral safety.
Alas, even those sensible enough to vote against such bad legislation feel the need to ply the NRA line. Freshman Senator Art Rusch (R-17/Vermillion) opened his speech on SB 162 by saying that he is not anti-gun, that he has a concealed weapons permit, and that he has had gun training. Senator Troy Heinert (D-26A/Mission) prefaced his remarks similarly: "I too am a gun owner, have a permit for concealed carry, but I also signed up to legislate." Senator Mike Vehle (R-20/Mitchell) didn't mention his gun ownership during his initial, intelligent critique of SB 162, but after Senator Monroe's NRA reminder, Senator Vehle returned to the mic with this hasty addendum:
I just wanted to add that I'm not anti-gun. I own a lot of guns, and I have a concealed carry permit, so I am—that was not my point, if anyone wants to think of that. I just wanted to make that clear [Senator Mike Vehle, Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, South Dakota Legislature, 2015.02.12, timestamp 45:26].
Sorry, Mike, Troy, Art—you voted against a gun bill. Someday, someone in a primary is going to point to that big nasty minus next to your NRA A. Woe unto thee for trying exercise good sense!