South Dakota Becomes 14th Constitutional Carry State, Others Seek to Follow

Gov. Kristi Noem, a former member of Congress who voted in favor of national concealed carry reciprocity in 2017 and campaigned for her current office last year as being an ardent supporter of the Second Amendment, backed up her talk by signing an important pro-gun bill this week. (Photo: Noem’s office)

As her first bill signed into law, Gov. Kristi Noem approved a measure that drops the licensing requirement for legal concealed carry in South Dakota.

Approved by wide margins in the Republican-controlled state legislature, SB 47 drops the requirement that those carrying concealed handguns in the state first get a permit.

“More than 230 years ago, the Founding Fathers of our country penned the Constitution that has since laid the framework for centuries of policies. They so firmly believed in the importance of the freedom to bear arms that they enshrined it into the Constitution’s Second Amendment,” said Noem at a signing ceremony on Thursday. “This constitutional carry legislation will further protect the Second Amendment rights of South Dakotans.”

While SB 47, which takes effect in July, scrubs the mandate to obtain a permit for those seeking to carry a concealed handgun in The Mount Rushmore State, it does not scrap the existing licensing program. Gun owners can continue to apply for the permits to use in lieu of Brady checks at South Dakota gun stores and for their reciprocal value out of state.

The National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups, who were in favor of the move, said, “This law is a common-sense measure that allows law-abiding South Dakotans to exercise their fundamental right to self-protection in the manner that best suits their needs.”

Other states on the move

With a dozen states since 2003 adopting models long held by Vermont to move to permitless carry, the action in South Dakota brings to a solid 14 the number of states that have constitutional carry as the law of the land. Lawmakers in Arkansas are busy with an effort to clarify that state’s law, which has been a subject of contention since it was adopted in 2013. Meanwhile, Republicans in Georgia, Oklahoma, and Texas are moving forward with measures that would swell the ranks of states who recognize the Second Amendment as the only thing needed to carry a lawful concealed pistol or revolver.

Besides Vermont, South Dakota and Arkansas, other states that recognize constitutional carry include Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, West Virginia, Wyoming, New Hampshire, and North Dakota. Montana and Utah have tried numerous times to adopt the practice by have been stymied by vetos from Govs. Steve Bullock and Gary Herbert, respectively.

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