When Gov. Dennis Daugaard first looked at a bill to let most South Dakotans carry concealed weapons without a permit, it looked good. Daugaard proclaims himself a proud supporter of Second Amendment rights and a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. He was leaning toward signing the bill.
But the more he studied House Bill 1248, the more the governor had doubts. And by Friday, he had seen enough to veto the bill.
“When I looked at the bill, it really was a solution in search of a problem,” Daugaard said Friday. “The process for gaining a concealed carry permit is very simple and easily accomplished. I just don’t see this (bill) as something that would improve that by a great deal.”
Worse, the governor said the bill would make life more difficult for citizens and law enforcement alike. Instead of checking a permit during a stop, law enforcement might have to detail citizens while they run a background check.
But the bill’s supporters say Daugaard’s veto was misguided.
“I believe that concealed weapons permit is a restriction on your constitutional right,” said Sen. Larry Rhoden, R-Union Center, who sponsored HB1248. “Whether or not it’s a legitimate restriction - that can be debated. But it is a restriction. If you don’t have a good, rock-solid restriction to leave that restriction in place, why not remove that restriction?”
There are four states that allow citizens to carry concealed weapons without a permit: Alaska, Arizona, Vermont and Wyoming.
South Dakota still could be the fifth if the Legislature votes Monday to override Daugaard’s veto on HB1248. That takes two-thirds majorities in both houses of the Legislature – 24 votes in the Senate and 47 votes in the House of Representatives.
The bill previously got that support in the House, where it passed 50-18. But it was a few votes short in the Senate, where it passed 22-11.
House Majority Leader David Lust, R-Rapid City, said it’s “tough to say” whether the Legislature will pass HB1248 over the governor’s veto. He credited the bill’s supporters with enthusiasm and said an override is definitely possible.
Lust’s Senate counterpart, Sen. Russell Olson, R-Wentworth, said the situation is similar in the upper house.
“Sen. Rhoden has got some phone calls to make. He’s an effective legislator. It’s going to be a matter of him getting some of those people who were on the fence (to switch),” Olson said.
Personally, Olson said he supports HB1248 but sees the governor’s point in vetoing it. The measure could be difficult to administer, Olson said.
“I think the governor is a proponent for the Second Amendment,” Olson said. “But his job as an administrator is totally different from my position as a legislator.”
A key factor in persuading Daugaard to veto HB1248 was opposition from law enforcement officials. Rapid City Police Chief Steve Allender was outspoken against the bill.
“There is not anything wrong with the current system we have,” Allender said. “I just have to believe in my heart that every law-abiding citizen expects that the government will take some measure to improve their safety.”
But Rhoden called getting rid of the permit requirement “common sense” and said the law enforcement officials he had talked to didn’t have major objections to the law.
Now he’s trying to round up support in the Senate to pass his bill.
“I’m not going to fall on my sword over the deal, but we’re certainly going to do our best,” Rhoden said.
Contact David Montgomery at 394-8329 or firstname.lastname@example.org