PIERRE (AP) - Last week, Gov. Kristi Noem signed into law a measure allowing people to carry concealed pistols without a permit in South Dakota.
During the same week, the South Dakota Senate rejected a separate bill to allow concealed pistols in the state Capitol.
The Republican governor tweeted that she would sign the “constitutional carry” bill Thursday, saying it would further protect the “Second Amendment rights of law-abiding South Dakotans.’’ The move is a win for conservatives who have long supported the plan, which languished under former GOP Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
“Our Founding Fathers believed so firmly in our right to bear arms that they enshrined it into the Constitution,’’ Noem wrote in her tweet announcing that she would sign the so-called constitutional carry bill. It’s currently a misdemeanor for someone to carry a concealed pistol or to have one concealed in a vehicle without a permit, while openly carrying a firearm is legal.
South Dakota will join at least 13 states - including neighboring North Dakota - that allow people to carry a concealed handgun without a permit, according to the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action.
Data from the Secretary of State’s office showed there were roughly 107,000 pistol permits in South Dakota at the end of November.
The South Dakota Sheriffs’ Association opposes the bill, arguing that the current limitations under the permit process are reasonable. The association’s greatest concern is that the proposal wouldn’t apply just to state residents, but also to anyone who comes to South Dakota, lobbyist Richard Tieszen told a Senate panel earlier this month.
House lawmakers voted last Tuesday to send the bill to Noem.
Shannon Hoime, volunteer leader of the state’s chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, called Noem’s decision “an embarrassment.’’
“You would think the governor would take more than a day to consider why most South Dakotans - including law enforcement leaders and the wide majority of gun owners - oppose this. But you would be wrong,’’ Hoime said in a statement.
Daugaard rejected a 2017 constitutional carry bill, saying the state’s current permitting process is “simple and straightforward.’’ Another try failed last year after he issued a veto threat.
Noem has previously said that she supports the “principle’’ of constitutional carry and urged passage of such a bill during her campaign for governor. She took office earlier this month.
South Dakota senators reversed course on a separate gun-rights proposal Wednesday, voting 22-10 against a bill that would have let permit holders carry concealed in the state Capitol and supplementary buildings.
Republican Sen. Arthur Rusch, an opponent, said he doesn’t think a law enforcement officer arriving at the scene of a shooting would be able to distinguish the “bad guy from the good guy.’’
GOP Sen. Stace Nelson, the bill’s sponsor, said the Capitol isn’t a secure facility and lawmakers and state employees are at risk. There are no metal detectors or other security checks at the Capitol entrances to enforce the current prohibition on most people carrying guns in the building.