Last updated on 2015.02.24
House Bill 1116 goes before Senate Judiciary tomorrow morning alongside House Bill 1096. Both bills revise our concealed weapons permit laws. HB 1096 is the mellower of the two, clarifying how the background check for a concealed weapons permit will be conducted and tightening rules to keep immigrants from getting guns. House Bill 1116 goes much further, essentially declaring the concealed weapons permit superfluous and repealing all laws against walking around with a gun hidden in your britches and bras. HB 1116 includes the further absurdity (Section 7) of removing the restriction on giving concealed weapons permits to people who have violated South Dakota weapons laws.
If a gun bill is nuts, you can bet South Dakota Gun Owners is backing it. I read on Facebook the radical gun advocacy group is cold-calling to rouse support for HB 1116. Another friend forwards this SDGO letter backing HB 1116:
Boy, I hope SDGO's gun aim is better than their rhetorical aim. This February 2015 letter contains three absurdities.
First, SDGO exec Ray Lautenschlager asserts that there is an "anti-gun crowd in Pierre." If there is anyone to whom one might apply this appellation in Pierre, they most certainly do not constitute a "crowd."
Second, Lautenschlager says, "The right to bear arms in self defense is absolutely vital." (Beware absolutes... but then what do we expect from a group whose letterhead boasts, "26 Years Without Compromise"?) "Why should a law-abiding citizen first ask permission from the government in order to defend themselves or their family?"
Two points off for failure of number agreement (a citizen... themselves or their family). Ten points off for misstating a question of law: No law-abiding citizens have to ask permission from the government in order to defend themselves or their families. If someone attacks my family, I can throw a punch, throw rocks, or throw my car into gear and get away very quickly. I can call the cops and my lawyer for proper civil protection. I can keep a gun in my house and even walk around town with my gun on my hip if that's what I think it takes to defend my family, all without government's permission.
What I can't do without a permit is sneak my gun into public spaces. When we turned to concealed weapons, we are no longer talking about an absolute right to self-defense. We are talking about surreptitious behavior with a deadly weapon amidst unsuspecting neighbors. If you crave that hazardous privilege, the state can make a case that it has a public interest in imposing the minimal intrusion, less than what we impose on folks driving cars on public roads, of asking you to pay a fee and get a permit so we have a chance to check your background.
Third, SDGO claims that HB 1116 will "restore the God-given rights of law-abiding South Dakotans to bear arms...."
I don't need to consult my Reverend wife to know that Jesus handed out bread and wine, not guns and ammo, at the Last Supper.
Rep. Dan Kaiser (R-3/Aberdeen), a co-sponsor of HB 1116, committed the same constitutional and theological errors in comments at Saturday's Aberdeen crackerbarrel:
Right now, you can legally open carry anywhere in South Dakota, so all of a sudden it’s illegal if your sport coat is over your pistol. The Second Amendment is clear — you have a right to bear and carry arms. I don’t understand how you can outline rights given to you by God and then you have to ask permission from the state to exercise those rights [Rep. Dan Kaiser, statement at crackerbarrel, reported by Bryan Howarth, "Lawmakers Debate Guns, Common Core," Aberdeen American News, 2015.02.22].
The right to bear arms exists in the national constitutions of three countries. Ours comes from a Bill of Rights written 226 years ago. It is far form a divine commandment.
The Second Amendment, like every other amendment, is not absolute. Nor is it Scripture. South Dakota Gun Owners should knock off their misrepresentations, and the South Dakota Legislature should leave our concealed weapons permitting process in place.