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South Dakota Capitol Building in Pierre.

PIERRE | The only thing keeping South Dakotans from being able to carry concealed guns without a permit is the governor’s signature.

The House on Tuesday passed by a vote of 47-23 Senate Bill 47, which would allow for concealed carry without a permit in the state. Approved by the Senate last week by a vote of 23-11, the bill moves on to Republican Gov. Kristi Noem’s desk for her signature or veto.

Noem has said that she supports permitless concealed carry, or so-called constitutional carry, but that she has to review the bill and discuss it with law enforcement before she signs it into law.

A spokesperson for the governor’s office, Kristin Wileman, said following the House vote, “The governor has repeatedly voiced her support of constitutional carry and looks forward to reviewing the bill when it arrives at her desk.”

The South Dakota Sheriff’s Association has opposed the bill, saying it’s too broad and could allow anyone to enter the state while carrying a concealed weapon. The State’s Attorneys Association has also opposed the bill.

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Under current law, South Dakota allows gun owners to open carry without a permit but requires a permit to carry a concealed firearm. Supporters of the bill say that lawful gun owners could find themselves guilty of a misdemeanor for so much as slipping on a coat and accidentally covering their gun and that the current permit process impedes upon Second Amendment rights.

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With the current system, applicants for a concealed carry permit pay a $10 application fee and have to pass a background check administered by their county sheriff’s office to qualify for their permit from the Secretary of State. There are 10 factors that disqualify an applicant from obtaining a concealed carry permit, such as past violent offenses or regular intoxication.

Opponents of the bill say that the sheriffs’ background checks are an important layer of protection to prevent potentially dangerous people from carrying concealed weapons. Supporters say that people who would be disqualified from a permit are prevented from getting guns in the first place due to federal background checks conducted at the time of purchasing a firearm from an authorized seller. Opponents point out that not all guns are purchased from authorized sellers, such as those sold online or between private individuals.

According to the Secretary of State’s Office, as of Nov. 30, 2018, more than 107,000 South Dakotans hold active concealed carry permits.

SB 47 is just one of several similar permitless concealed carry bills up for consideration this session. Noem has five business days to sign or veto SB 47.

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