Senator Stace Nelson is totally right to expose and prosecute the corruption among his party leadership. Senator Nelson is totally wrong to offer Senate Bill 89, a backhanded attempt to push guns into schools, courthouses, and the Capitol.
SB 89 doesn’t ban gun bans. Instead, it would subject any public entity that bans firearms on its premises to civil liability for injuries and damages resulting from violent crimes on their premises.
Consider that the statutory definition [SDCL 22-1-2(9)] of “crime of violence” includes “murder, manslaughter, rape, aggravated assault, riot, robbery, burglary in the first degree, arson, kidnapping, felony sexual contact as defined in § 22-22-7, felony child abuse as defined in § 26-10-1, or any other felony in the commission of which the perpetrator used force, or was armed with a dangerous weapon, or used any explosive or destructive device.”
Thus under SB 89, if a criminal steals a computer from a USD dorm room or lights the campus library on fire, the robbery victim or someone singed by the flaming I.D. Weeks Library could sue the Board of Regents, which generally prohibits firearms on campus.
SB 89 assigns liability to the Regents, even though the Regents and their staff and students believe that banning firearms from campus makes the campus safer.
Similarly, if angry parents go to the Capitol and start casting stones at House members for ignoring sexual misconduct toward young interns, SB 89 would let dented (traumatized? frightened?) parties sue the state for denying them the opportunity to shoot the stoners. SB 89 would ignore the precautions the state takes for public safety by stationing armed security guards in the Capitol.
SB 89 also subjects public schools to civil liability for following state law. SDCL 13-32-7 prohibits the general public from carrying firearms on school premises. SB 89 does not mention removing that law from the books.
SB 89 represents Senator Nelson’s continued mistaken belief that guns can solve our problems. Restricting firearms in public buildings is a sensible precaution against violence. Punishing public institutions for following the law and keeping staff, students, and visitors safe is wrong.
SB 89 comes before Senate Judiciary Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. Nelson sits on that committee along with SB 89 co-sponsors Lance Russell and Brock Greenfield.