Constitutional Carry Bill Killed In Committee

Shoulder holster (Source:

Phil Jensen


The South Dakota House Judiciary Committee killed the Constitutional Carry Bill, HB 1015, in committee today in a 7-5 vote.

Rep. Don Kopp (R-Dist. 35), the primary sponsor of the bill, spoke first during the hearing.

Kopp stated that the bill would not do away with the existing permit process, but would only allow a law-abiding South Dakotan to carry their own weapon without facing a penalty for not having a permit.

Rick Kriebel 2016


Kopp said that he had been made aware of concerns that the wording could indicate any person, regardless of age, could carry a concealed weapon. He said that Rep. Stace Nelson would be bringing an amendment to the bill to clarify that age laws would still apply.

He clarified that reciprocity laws regarding residents of other states would be unaffected by this legislation.

Kopp also pointed out that Article 6 of the state constitution guarantees that the right of an individual to bear arms in defense of themselves shall not be denied. He contended the permit requirement was a denial of that right, and gave the example where a person who did not have a permit might be threatened with no time to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

Woodrow Wilcox


After Kopp completed his testimony in favor of the bill, Rep. Nelson made the aforementioned amendment regarding age.

Ed Randazzo of South Dakota Gun Owners was allowed to read a letter from the National Association for Gun Rights in support of HB 1015, which among other things likened the permit fee to a tax that is imposed in order for a person to exercise their rights.

In his testimony, Randazzo also pointed out that the same and similar laws have been passed in other states, often with subsequent decreases in crime rates.

Rep. Betty Olson also spoke in favor of the bill, citing death threats she and others had received due to politically tense situations. In one case, she was traveling and was threatened by some other travelers. She brandished her weapon and scared them away, but did not have a permit at the time.

Randy Hartley of the Department of Public Safety spoke in opposition to the bill. He stated that there could be unintended consequences from the legislation. Hartley said that there were few grounds upon which a concealed weapon’s permit might be denied (e.g. previous violence, substance abuse, etc.).  He said that there is no law requiring a person to obtain a concealed weapon’s permit.

He said that removing the permitting process would be an invitation to criminals such as gang members during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally to carry weapons.

Paul Bachand of the South Dakota State’s Attorneys Association spoke against the bill. He said that the Hell’s Angels during the Sturgis rally carry ball pein hammers during the rally because they cannot carry a firearm.

In rebuttal, Kopp reiterated that out-of-state residents such as the aforementioned motorcycle gangs could only bring in a concealed weapon under the existing concealed weapons reciprocity agreement, that the proposed change to the law affects only South Dakota residents.

Rep. Gene Abdallah objected to the bill on the basis that one person might borrow another person’s firearm and be able to legally carry it concealed without going through the background check they would to which they would be subjected if they had purchased the weapon themselves.  He also noted that the National Rifle Association (NRA) did not have a representative present speaking in favor of the bill. Abdallah objected to the practice of South Dakota Gun Owners to inform voters when representatives vote against gun rights legislation, and said, “I won’t vote for anything associated with the South Dakota Gun Owners.”

Rep. Charles Turbiville made a motion to kill the bill which was seconded by Rep. Peggy Gibson.

Rep. Jon Hansen proposed voting on the bill as amended because the amendment made it a better bill.  Rep. Nelson, who worked for more than 20 years as a military police officer and NCIS agent, noted that gun laws tend to disarm law-abiding citizens but do nothing to stop lawbreakers because those inclined to commit crimes are not concerned about laws against guns. Rep. Brian Gosch said that while he supports the general intent of the bill, he disagrees with the actions of South Dakota Gun Owners: “Initially I was going to support this bill because my friend Rep. Kopp was carrying it. But in light of how I see things stacking up here now, I need to vote against this bill.”

It would seem that, at least for some on the House Judiciary Committee, it was more important to punish the South Dakota Gun Owners than it was to advance the Second Amendment rights of South Dakotans.  Even if one were to accept that SDGO has been too aggressive in defending pro-gun legislation, this is pretty petty behavior on the part of elected government officials whose job is to represent the people and defend their freedom. Very petty.

You can listen to the audio of the discussion here; HB 1015 was the first bill considered today.




Abdallah Yea Boomgarden Yea Feinstein Excused
Gibson Yea Hansen (Jon) Nay Killer Yea
Kopp Nay Nelson (Stace) Nay Russell Nay
Tornow Nay Turbiville Yea Gosch Yea
Hunt Yea

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Bob Ellis has been the owner of media company Dakota Voice, LLC since 2005. He is a 10-year U.S. Air Force veteran, a political reporter and commentator for the past decade, and has been involved in numerous election and public policy campaigns for over 20 years. He was a founding member and board member of the Tea Party groups Citizens for Liberty and the South Dakota Tea Party Alliance. He lives in Rapid City, South Dakota with his wife and two children.
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  • The Cold Texan

    It is sad we have to beg our goverment for a “right” that we allready have!