The police blotter from Sioux Falls shows how carrying a gun around opens the door to turning a minor dispute into a felony arrest.
Two guys are driving toward each other in a narrow alley. Only one car can fit. Neither guy wants to back up. SFPD Sgt. Paul Creviston describes what follows:
“According to the victim the other driver became visibly upset. It appeared the hand gestures were becoming more aggressive. The driver then reached down underneath the seat and produced a hand gun. He started waving the weapon at the reporting party.”
A short time later, Creviston says the driver with the gun, identified as 72-year-old Robert Rist of Sioux Falls was arrested and charged with aggravated assault [Jerry Dahmen, “Police: Driver Waves Gun At Man, Arrested On Assault Charges,” KSOO, 2017.03.14].
Aggravated assault—attempting “by physical menace with a deadly weapon to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily harm“—is a Class 3 felony: fifteen years, $30,000. One instance of poor judgment could ensure an old man’s last views of his grandkids are through bars. That’s a pretty high price to pay for the minor ego trip of not putting the car in reverse and yielding to another man.
Now consider the ego trips at stake in the State Capitol. Legislators come to loggerheads all the time arguing for animal science labs, tax hikes to subsidize local interests, deregulation of concealed weapons, and countless other issues that mean a lot to legislators’ constituents, donors, and egos, more, I would argue, than any brief tussle over alley space. We have long banned firearms from the Capitol, courthouses, and other such spaces of public discourse out of exactly that concern that disagreements over matters of such great import could easily lead to flaring tempers and rash displays of bravado.
A simple “you back up/no, you back up!” altercation in a Sioux Falls alley is nothing compared to a “raise everyone’s taxes/no, cut teacher pay!” dispute in the great marble halls in Pierre. We do not want a frustrated legislator putting his hands on his hips, pushing his coat flaps back, and saying, “Don’t push me on this bill” while (accidentally?) exposing his concealed pistol.
Governor Daugaard, don’t back out of the alley. Veto House Bill 1156, and tell legislators that our sacred disputatious Capitol is no place for firearms.