PIERRE | A proposal brought by a South Dakota Democrat asking the Legislature to acknowledge the issue of gun deaths in the state was transformed by Senate Republicans on Tuesday to highlight reductions in accidental gun deaths.
Sen. Reynold Nesiba, a Sioux Falls Democrat, said he brought the resolution to "start a conversation" about deaths from guns in the state, but he found the conservative-dominated Senate a tough audience. The South Dakota Legislature has often moved in recent years to protect and expand gun rights.
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Instead of passing Nesiba's resolution that pointed out that the majority of suicides in the state involve guns and outnumber deaths from opioids, the Senate rewrote his proposal to point out statistics underscored by the National Rifle Association on dramatic reductions in accidental firearm deaths. The resolution called for gun owners to safely handle and store firearms.
South Dakota has the 12th highest rate of death from firearms in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Nesiba called the rewrite, known as "hog housing," a "bullying move." He said he thought he crafted the proposal, which included language acknowledging rights under the Second Amendment, in a way that gun rights advocates could support.
Sen. Jim Stalzer, the Sioux Falls Republican who proposed the bill's rewrite, did not immediately respond to a phone call requesting comment.
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