Permitless concealed carry bill passes South Dakota Senate, heads to House

State senators passed Senate Bill 47 by a 23-11 vote on Tuesday, Jan. 22. SB 47 would allow for what some call constitutional carry, or permitless concealed carry, in the state.

Under current law, gun owners in the state are not required to hold a permit to open carry, but a permit is required in order to conceal carry. Carrying a concealed weapon without proper permitting is a misdemeanor offense.

SB 47’s prime sponsor Sen. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark, told senators Tuesday that gun owners who carry openly and do not hold concealed carry permits could violate the law by so much as putting a jacket on, covering their weapon.

Senators questioned the necessity of the bill, saying that the permit process in place is not too cumbersome or expensive. Under current law, South Dakotans can obtain a concealed carry permit after passing a background check administered through their local sheriff’s office and paying a $10 fee.

“Nobody is trying to deny access,” Senate Minority Leader Troy Heinert, D-Mission, said during Tuesday’s debate. “Go through the process. Ten dollars. Ten minutes. Simple.”

Sen. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, refuted that imposing a fee on conceal carry permits is a denial of Second Amendment rights. If a South Dakotan refuses to pay the $10 fee, Nelson said he or she is “denied the right to bear arms.”

Sen. Lee Schoenbeck, R-Watertown, said those who would benefit from a permitless concealed carry law are those who would, under current law, be denied a permit for reasons such as a history of violence or a previous conviction.

“I’m sticking with my sheriff on this one,” Schoenbeck said, referring to the South Dakota Sheriff’s Association’s opposition to the bill. The State’s Attorneys Association also opposes SB 47.

It is unknown how many concealed carry permit applicants are denied every year, but Schoenbeck questioned why the legislature should pass a bill that could make it easier for those who would typically be denied to carry concealed.

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

Senators, as well as the Sheriff’s Association, also voiced concern that SB 47 would allow out-of-state residents to enter South Dakota and carry concealed pistols without vetting.

Republican Gov. Kristi Noem at a news conference last week said she supports the idea of constitutional carry, but needs to review the legislation and consult with law enforcement before making a final decision.

SB 47 now heads to the House for a vote before it can reach Noem’s desk.