Law-abiding SD gun owners look for right to carry with no permit after electing conservative governor

Thanks to South Dakota’s election this year of National Rifle Association-backed Gov. Kristi Noem, the state’s millions of law-abiding gun owners may soon possess the right to carry a concealed weapon without first obtaining a permit.

In statements made during the campaign season, Noem expressed support for a constitutional carry bill sponsored by GOP state Rep. Lynne DiSanto last year but ultimately vetoed by retiring Gov. Dennis Daugaard, a Republican who argued the state’s current laws are just fine.

“It is paramount that our state protect the rights of our citizens while at the same time protecting the lives of our citizens. I believe our current laws appropriately protect both interests, and I ask that you sustain my veto,” Daugaard said in his veto in March of 2017.

Noem disagreed.

“The Founders believed our right to bear arms was so important to our country they enshrined it into the Constitution’s Second Amendment,” she said this January. “I believe enacting constitutional carry legislation will further protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding South Dakotans.”

In campaign ads during the election, the Gov.-elect reflected further on her support for the Second Amendment, though she refrained from discussing any specific policy proposals:

Because of her previous statements and her campaign ads, an increasing number of South Dakota gun owners are confident constitutional carry may soon be enacted in their state.

“There are a lot of Republicans that are very excited to have a conservative governor. I think under a new governor it’s very likely to pass,” DiSanto , who just won election as a state senator, meaning she’ll be switching chambers, said to the Associated Press.

This sentiment can also be seen on social media:

What remains unclear is whether Noem intends to stick to her word.

While a transition spokesperson confirmed to the AP that Noem supports constitutional carry “in principle,” the spokesperson noted that she isn’t willing to commit to any particular legislation yet.

“The governor-elect will work to find a way that law enforcement and gun right proponents can come together around a solution,” her spokesperson said.

To be fair, even the South Dakota Sheriffs’ Association — which apparently has a noted influence on the state’s legislature — hasn’t discussed any potential 2019 legislation yet. Not to mention that roughly a month and a half remain til Noem’s inauguration.

If DiSanto’s bill were re-passed by the state’s legislature and subsequently signed by the new governor next year, it would specifically “eliminate penalties for carrying a concealed pistol in the state for those who are currently eligible for the permits,” according to the Argus Leader.

“Those who have criminal records barring them from receiving concealed carry permits would also be prohibited from carrying without a permit.”

“I don’t believe that I should have to lease back my constitutional right from the government to feel safe as a woman,” DiSanto said when the bill was first proposed last year.

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Vivek Saxena

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