Maybe we love the Second Amendment a little too much

Second Amendment


When she spoke at the National Rifle Association Leadership Forum, Gov. Kristi Noem said that South Dakota is setting the standard as the most Second Amendment friendly state in nation. If it’s true — and why would anyone lie to the NRA? — it’s worth noting how we got that designation. 

In the five legislative sessions during Noem’s time as governor, there were 53 firearms or concealed carry bills before the Legislature. Of course Noem wasn’t responsible for the appearance of all these bills. However, someone in leadership must set a tone that’s welcoming of legislation dealing with firearms.

With an average of more than 10 firearms bills per year, South Dakota lawmakers certainly seem like they are smitten with the Second Amendment. And, like lovers everywhere, sometimes they’re so besotted that they do something silly. Fortunately for us, while their work has led the governor to declare South Dakota’s leadership in Second Amendment friendliness, often legislators work fast when it comes to disposing of those firearms bills that are bound to misfire.

In the just completed legislative session, the House Judiciary Committee made quick work of House Bill 1173, which would have prevented enforcement of federal laws related to firearms. This was likely submitted to circumvent an attempt by the government to take away guns, a recurring theme during Noem’s speech to the NRA though this federal confiscation of weapons never seems to take place. 

In 2020, anyone who has ever made a stink about the size of their real estate tax bill was glad to hear that the Senate Judiciary Committee killed Senate Bill 51, which would have authorized the possession of a concealed pistol by employees in a county courthouse. That was a busy year for firearms oddities as the Senate State Affairs Committee killed Senate Concurrent Resolution 602, which invited responsible gun owners from Virginia to relocate in South Dakota. 

It’s hard to follow the logic that says the state will charge $28 to renew a driver’s license or $55 for a combination hunting and fishing license, but it’s so happy when you carry a gun that the state will throw in the cost of a federal background check for free.

In 2022, the Legislature quickly disposed of SB 182, which would have prohibited discriminatory actions against the firearms industry. The bill was aimed at financial institutions, seeking to ensure that banks would do business with the firearms industry. The bill didn’t make it out of the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee, but that didn’t stop Noem from presenting an eerily similar executive order at the NRA forum. 

Her executive order bars state agencies from doing business with banks with more than $100 billion in assets that discriminate against firearm-related entities. She signed the executive order at the NRA forum, despite the fact that legislative leaders say they couldn’t find a South Dakota bank to which it would apply. 

Sometimes the Legislature gives the bum’s rush to bills that sound like they make sense. In 2023, the House Judiciary Committee killed HB 1213, which would have made it a Class 6 felony for allowing a minor to have a gun that’s then used in the commission of a felony. 

Obviously, not all 53 firearms bills considered by the Legislature made it into law. At the NRA forum, Noem did brag about a bill that did get signed. She said the first piece of legislation she ever signed as governor was the one that allows concealed carry of a firearm without a permit. Known as constitutional carry, this law allows that if you’re enough of an upright citizen to meet all the requirements to purchase a gun, you have the right to carry it concealed in public. She also noted that South Dakota will pick up your tab during a gun purchase for the cost of the federal background check. 

It’s hard to follow the logic that says the state will charge $28 to renew a driver’s license or $55 for a combination hunting and fishing license, but it’s so happy when you carry a gun that the state will throw in the cost of a federal background check for free.

At one point in her speech, Noem said that the NRA isn’t made up of just “old white guys.” On a copy of her speech circulated to the media, Noem said it in all caps: “I AM THE NRA!”

Well, maybe she is. But some of us would prefer that she concentrate on being the governor of South Dakota. And, while she’s at it, maybe she could send a message to the Legislature that as the most Second Amendment friendly state in the nation, they don’t need to continue to try to prove their love of guns with any more silly legislation. As a state, we’ve gone about as far as we can go in proving our love of guns. It’s time to love something else. 



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