Western South Dakota's Only Ranch Station

Proposed bills aimed at gun safety met with dead-on-arrival by legislators

PIERRE, S.D. – Legislation that was being brought forward as gun safety measures was deferred to the 41st day, effectively ending further debate or passage.

Brought by Rep. Linda Duba (D-15), HB 1213 was a bill that would require gun owners to store their guns, either in a locked container or with a trigger lock.  The second bill, HB 1227, was a red-flag bill that allows for the temporary removal of guns from a person deemed to be a danger to themselves and/or others.

HB 1213 outlined a penalty for those who do not, making the infraction a class 6 felony if their failure led to a minor obtaining the gun and using it to commit a crime. The penalty would not have applied if the minor stole the gun. A class 6 felony would also have resulted if a gun owner knowingly gave, loaned or sold a gun to a minor, who then used it in a crime.

Comprising the bulk of opposition against both bills was former South Dakota legislator and current National Rifle Association (NRA) lobbyist Brian Gosch. He contended that the inclusion of “knowingly” in the first section of bill HB 1213 was a problem, asking why someone should be liable if they loan a shotgun to a 12-year-old for hunting, and then the child gets mad and shoots their cousin, arguing the adult might not have known the child would shoot their cousin.

In her testimony for HB 1227, an Act to authorize the issuance of extreme risk protection orders, Duba said, “The rate of gun deaths in the state of South Dakota has increased 61 percent from the years 2011 to 2020 compared to 33 percent nationwide. In South Dakota, a gun  death occurs once every four days.”

Gosch called it a gun confiscation bill, and claimed it would take guns away without proper standards being met.

The final note of opposition came from a representative of the Unified Judicial System (UJS), which did not take a position on the policy, but noted instead concerns about the resources needed to implement the legislation if the bill moved forward.

There was no mention of the $231 million the U.S. Justice Department is sending out now to help states and the District of Columbia to administer “red-flag laws” and other crisis-intervention programs as part of the landmark bipartisan gun legislation passed by Congress over the summer of 2022.

Red-flag laws, also known as extreme risk protection orders, are intended to temporarily remove guns from people with potentially violent behavior and prevent them from hurting themselves or others. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have red-flag laws.

The laws differ by state, but they generally allow people like family members or law enforcement to petition a court for an order removing weapons, for up to a year. Some critics fear they could be used to wrongly curtail Second Amendment rights. The Justice Department said the program has checks in place to ensure due process.

The federal funding is part of the $1.4 billion from the legislation provided to the Justice Department over five years for gun violence prevention measures.

The legislation passed in June was the widest-ranging gun violence bill in decades. It toughened requirements for young people who seek to buy guns, denied firearms for more domestic abusers, and bolstered funding for mental health programs and schools.

Some of the $231 million in funding will also go to crisis-intervention court proceedings and other gun-violence reduction programs.

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