House Bill 1248. Carrying Concealed Pistols

The South Dakota State Legislature just passed House Bill 1248, which will make a legal correlation between possessing a drivers license and carrying a concealed pistol.  I recently remarked in the Rapid City Journal that I thought the law was poorly constructed and that the Governor should veto it.  My 400 word statement to the Journal reporter was reduced to 52 words and I think the point was slightly lost (not his fault, I was rambling a little).  Since this is South Dakota and gun owner’s rights are sacred, I feel I need to explain further:

Currently, South Dakota requires that you apply for a permit to carry a concealed pistol.  You get the permit for $10 as long as you meet some logical criteria found in SDCL 23-7-7.1:   

(1)     18 years of age or older

(2)      Never pled guilty to, nolo contendere to, or been convicted of a felony or a crime of violence;
(3)      Not habitually in an intoxicated or drugged condition;

(4)      No history of violence;

(5)      Not been found in the previous ten years to be a “danger to others” or a “danger to self” as defined in § 27A-1-1 or is not currently adjudged mentally incompetent;
(6)      Physically resided in and is a resident of the county where the application is being made for at least thirty days immediately preceding the date of the application;

(7)      No violations of chapter 23-7 [firearms violations], 22-14 [more weapons violations], or 22-42 [drugs] constituting a felony or misdemeanor in the 5 years preceding the date of application or is not currently charged under indictment or information for such an offense;

(8)      Citizen or legal resident of the United States; and

(9)      Not a fugitive from justice.

It’s easy and inexpensive to obtain the permit.  It ensures a proper computer background check to ensure the recipient of the permit is qualified to possess it.  It is one of the least restrictive permitting processes there is.  So what was wrong with it?  Did it violate someone’s rights?  Was it too inconvenient for people to obtain once every 4 years?  There must have been a problem, but I was never made aware of it.  Apparently the bill will fix it though.  Here is the new rule – House Bill 1248, which will become law on July 1 if the Governor signs it:  


Section 1. The provisions of §§ 22-14-9, 22-14-9.1, 22-14-9.2 and 22-14-10 [concealed pistol laws] do not apply to any person, eighteen years of age or over with a valid South Dakota driver license, who is otherwise eligible to be issued a permit to carry a concealed pistol pursuant to chapter 23-7.

So that’s it.  Possess a valid drivers license, have a clean record and a clean bill of mental health and you can carry.  Get too many traffic tickets and lose your license – you can’t carry.  Oh, and you have to know (through independent research or osmosis) the old criteria, which is also to be considered with the new law.  Confusing.

Gun rights advocates claim Americans should carry weapons to make it a safer place to live.  The NRA reports the accounts of citizens shooting intruders, etc. to demonstrate just how valuable guns are in our lives.  Anyone want to compare those statistics with the injuries and deaths related to accidental discharges?  I get gun rights.  I believe in the right to possess and carry firearms.  But shouldn’t we weigh the risk to our communities?  What is wrong with an easy, logical permitting process that allows a background check in a controlled environment? 

House Bill 1248 is permissive legislation and some people who don’t currently carry guns will start carrying them when this law goes into effect.  Some of them will violate criminal statutes because they’re ignorant of the law or in denial of a mental health condition.  The guy who possesses a concealed pistol and lets his drivers license expire will suddenly become a criminal by violating a firearms law.  And this is an improvement….how? 

Here are my real problems with the new proposed law:  What is the possible correlation between being able to obtain a SD drivers license and being able to possess a concealed firearm?  How is the average citizen supposed to be aware of the criteria which will be hidden in state law after July 1?  And when a police officer stops a gang member at 2 a.m., how the heck is (s)he supposed to do a thorough background check in real time, on-scene during a field investigation?  I suppose when we temporarily seize a handgun because we can’t immediately determine the background of the person carrying it, there will be more legislation prohibiting authorities from seizing guns without due process.  Where does this stop?  The new law is unreasonable.

My point is simple:  I am urging the Governor to veto this bill not because South Dakota is interested in controlling gun possession, but because South Dakotans deserve a better law that won’t put them at risk of either being unnecessarily prosecuted or threatened by someone unfit to carry a pistol.

About chiefsview

Former police chief. Mildly opinionated.
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14 Responses to House Bill 1248. Carrying Concealed Pistols

  1. Jeff Bloom says:

    I don’t think the drivers license provision is there because having a driver’s license qualifies you to have a hand gun. What it does do is document who you are. It prevents undocumented type persons from legally carrying a weapon. As far the issue of someone losing their license and continuing to carry a weapon, it can be made very clear to them that they will be committing a crime if they do. On many issues ignorance of the law is not a defense to breaking it.

    On the whole though I see the rationality behind your thoughts on this issue.

  2. Craig Deuter says:

    Sorry I support the new law. I could comment about those rights that have been given us oh about 200 years ago but you dont believe in them so why waste my words.
    I am a supporter of Law enforcement but in some cases officers are violating rights.
    If you think gang members care about any law you should resign.

    • chiefsview says:

      Craig- I do believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and there’s no reason to assume otherwise. The proposed law is “second-best” legislation. The primary bill failed so this “offspring” legislation was the next best option for the sponsors of the bill. It is cumbersome and puts law-abiding citizens at risk of Government intrusion. Plus, it takes an easy and effective process and replaces it with a system that is bound to create trouble or possibly expose law enforcement to unnecessary risk. Think about my example of the gang-member. I used that example not because I think gang members care about the law, but because of the burden it will place on field officers in the middle of the night. We will have police officers performing administrative duties when they are needed to respond to calls for service…PLUS – their background checks will be imperfect. They will not have the resources available to them that the daytime administrative staff does so they will be forced to make decisions with limited information. I also think the ability to obtain a drivers license is an unreasonable requirement. Why should someone HAVE to obtain a drivers license? Why not a State-issued ID card? This part of the law appears to be a shortcut to nowhere as there is already a requirement in State law to prove you are a citizen. The law puts citizens at risk and routes the responsibility to verify a persons qualifications to carry on line-level police officers who have better things to do. This is my opinion concerning this particular piece of legislation, not on gun ownership and possession as a whole. It’s my job to worry about the safety of both the community and the officers who serve the community. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. Scott Parsons says:

    Since when did the people who commit crimes start caring about the law? You could have a hundred laws about guns on the books and that will not stop someone who doesnt care about them to begin with. The only people affected by gun laws are the people who jump thru all the hoops to make sure they are following the law so they can protect themselves from the people who dont. I should know, I used a legal gun with a permit to protect myself from two idiots that tried to kill me while I was delivering them a pizza.

    • Drew Lewis says:

      I think that having a drivers license is a reasonable requirement. If you have a drivers license you show some regard for simple laws and that should correlate with wanting to abide by other laws. I also don’t think that any person that wants to carry a gun would have a problem with a police officer taking that gun until proof of legal right to carry could be established. I think you don’t give enough credit to the police they have been trained to know when people are not truthful. A citizen who chooses to carry a weapon should inform law enforcement when they are involved with an incident. The people who shouldn’t be carrying are not going to inform police and the police will be in the same position they have always been in. In the case of the guy who let his drivers license expire, in the current system would have let his liscense to carry expire and would still be a criminal.

  4. Nicki Woodard says:

    Chief Allender, For the most part I can agree with your analysis of this bill. I have a high regard for the police force, so taking into consideration their point of view on an issue like this is a very reasonable thing to do. As another poster commented, we were given the right to carry in the constitution and any infringement by the government to curb that I believe, is unconstitutional. My husband informed me that one of our neighboring states has passed a law to drop their conceal carry laws from off the books. My first reaction was “Great. That’s the way it should be.” If a non-law abiding citizen wants to carry a gun, it won’t matter at all what the law says, they’ll find a way. I have a conceal carry permit that expires this year. I’ll be paying my $10 to have it renewed, but I believe that a compromise might be to make it a one time application. Obviously my name is in the records that I have a permit, if I should commit a crime, or my record be pulled for a background check it would be noted that I have a permit. I don’t think it should be an every 4 year renewal.

  5. Jon Miller says:

    I must say this is a great article i enjoyed reading it keep the good work 🙂

  6. hazmat says:

    Chief, I’ll stack your accidental discharges against defensive gun uses. Conservative estimates put the number of DGUs in the 100k-250k range annually. I’ve seen the numbers on all murders, not just firearm related murders, from the CDC and FBI, and your numbers just don’t add up.

    Check out the Cato Insititute’s website on DGU: While not all inclusive, these are just the ones that have press accounts. Have you forgotten about the pizza delivery driver who defended himself? Or the lady in North Boxelder who fired at possible home invaders? They happen, even here in the Greater Rapid City/Pennington County area.

    • chiefsview says:

      Hazmat – sorry it took so long to approve and reply. You make a good point. I looked only at fatalities in two categories: Justifiable homicide by both citizens and the police and also accidental firearm discharges. On average, citizens commit justifiable homicide about 260-270 times annually while the police do so in the performance of their duties approximately 370 times. Accidental firearm discharges account for just under 600 deaths annually. Obviously some of those are hunting accidents etc, but a number of them are family members, friends and the one holding the gun.

      Just to clarify the issue at hand: I am not advocating for gun control. The bill in question is not a gun control bill. I am simply stating that the bill on the Gov’s desk is poor legislation. I am in favor of limited regulation of who is allowed to carry a pistol concealed in their clothing and I believe the majority of the citizens feel the same way. If the NRA has their way – and I assume they will someday, everyone – including convicted murderers and armed robbers, will be legally allowed to carry concealed firearms. The argument of “they do anyway” is old and tired… what criminals choose to do should not be a guiding factor in determining new law. Thanks for commenting.

  7. Ben Herr says:

    The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, Doesnt the Police Dept take an oath to defend it.ive supported law enforcement for a long time,your dept is one of the best in South Dakota.,but Chief the word infringement is what it is. The Founders of this country didnt right up laws to be altered down the road. the American folks are the government and if we the people decide that the constitution is what it is then so be it. i do understand your concern,and i also know that when UN troops went to Bosnia the first thing they did was go to court houses and check the records for pistol permits.they then went house to house disarming folks including the police. This is why the community and the police need to stand together and support the constitution. No disrespect intended either sir,your job is a tough one.i love my country as do you and many others.Our founders themselves were labeled criminals for just wanting to be free.Guns are an american tradition,look around how many of our traditions are under attack by so called folks who want to protect us from ourselves,never in my life have i ever seen on television when a candidate running for the office of president tells us that the current man in there is the most dangerous weve ever had. so do we just set back and allow danger to come to us as lawful citizens protected by our own constitution Or do we stand together troops,law enforcement,and the american folks all standing united as one. One more thing the south dakota constitution also stands for it self. I THINK IT SHOULD BE REQUIRED READING FOR ALL LAW ENFORCEMENT AND OUR TROOPS ON CONSTITUTIONAL LAW. Then when a problem arises we refer to it and then the issues are settled.

    • chiefsview says:

      Ben – thanks for the comment. This issue is not about gun control and the constitution did not specifically address whether “keeping” or “bearing” meant carrying concealed or just having a gun to protect yourself and home. To have an opinion on this, all we really need to decide is this: Should the Government allow someone to carry a concealed pistol when they have demonstrated they can’t be trusted with one? For example, a person convicted of armed robbery. Do you support the government authorizing him to carry a pistol under his clothes and shop at the same retail store your family uses? That is the issue – should the government have a role in determining who can and cant. Criminals will always do what they choose. I say, South Dakota is very liberal when it comes to gun laws and we have a minimal amount of regulation for determining who can carry concealed pistols. Thanks for voicing your thoughts.

  8. Ben Herr says:

    thanks chief and i respect what you said,be safe out there and know this we are with you.

  9. Ben Herr says:

    well i guess the discussion is ended the governor vetoed the bill 2 hrs ago

  10. chiefsview says:

    One more comment from me since the bill has now been Vetoed. So far, I have heard many arguments in favor of the bill. It has been most interesting that the most common argument states that good, law-abiding citizens should not have their right to bear arms infringed upon. Awesome argument – only it works both ways… by wanting law abiding citizens to have this right, this implies people who are NOT law abiding should not have that right. I agree, but who will impose this regulation? Shall we ask the criminal not to carry a pistol on the honor system? No – it makes perfect sense that the government should administer the regulation. Think of it like this – we regulate the law-breakers so the law abiding citizens can do as they please. What we have now is minimal regulation. Trust me, you do NOT want everyone carrying a concealed pistol with the permission of the government. Thanks for your comments and for engaging in this important issue.

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