South Dakota Citizens for Liberty has released its “Second Amendment Scorecard” for the 2017 Legislature. As a whole, the Legislature scores relatively poorly in the eye of these rootin’-tooters, passing only four of the ten bills included on the scorecard:
- Senate Bill 89 (killed in Senate committee): make public entities that ban firearms on their premises liable for damages to anyone harmed on site by violent criminals.
- SB 94 (killed in Senate): repeal concealed-firearm permit requirement.
- SB 144 (killed in House committee): exempt soldiers from concealed-firearm permit requirement.
- House Bill 1072 (vetoed by Governor): repeal concealed-firearm permit requirement.
- HB 1091 (enacted): extend renewal period for concealed-firearm permit.
- HB 1127 (enacted): revise concealed-firearm permit renewal process for soldiers stationed out of state.
- HB 1135 (killed in House): allow people who shoot other people to recover costs and attorney fees if they are acquitted of wrongdoing.
- HB 1147 (enacted): add fingerprint background check to enhanced concealed-firearm permit requirements.
- HB 1156 (vetoed by Governor): allow concealed firearms in the Capitol (but not in the Supreme Court chambers).
- HB 1211 (enacted): allow sixty-day grace period to renew expired concealed-firearm permit (translation: allow previously permitted concealed carriers to carry concealed weapons for sixty days without a permit).
I support only one of these measures, #8, HB 1147, which cleaned up previous drafters’ forgetfulness and put a useful safeguard in the enhanced-permit process. I could be persuaded that HB 1135 offered reasonable compensation to folks who engaged in legally justifiable self-defense, though I’m inclined to believe courts and juries ought to be able to sort that out without legislative directive. At best, Citizens for Liberty would have given me a meager 20%, worse than any regular voter in the Senate or House.
The top scoring Democrat was Senate Minority Leader Billie Sutton, who scored an 80%. The only black/blue marks on his 2017 scorecard were his two votes, in committee and in the full Senate, against HB 1156, guns in the Capitol, in which nay he was joined by nine Senate Republicans. Democrat Sutton, who is also running for Governor, scored better than 12 Senate Republicans and 25 House Republicans, including House Speaker G. Mark Mickelson.
The SDGOP spin machine will have fun trying to paint Sutton as just another liberal Democrat. But on this gun scorecard, Democrat Sutton is only one bill away from the perfect score of some of the hardest right-wing Republicans in the state, and the bill in question was vetoed by our Republican Governor. Sutton’s Republican opponent, Kristi Noem or Marty Jackley, would have a hard time turning guns in the capitol into a strong campaign issue when Sutton can respond by reading Dennis Daugaard’s veto message back to them. Republicans will have a hard time kicking Senator Sutton around on guns without kicking some of their own powerful members even harder.
Interestingly omitted from this Second Amendment Scorecard is House Joint Resolution 1001, Rep. Drew Dennert’s effort to write hunting, fishing, and trapping into our state constitution. Dennert’s language was adapted from NRA draft legislation and was endorsed by the National Association for Gun Rights. It failed in House committee.