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31 GOP Legislators Score 100% on 2017 Gun Report; 80% Insulates Sutton from 2nd Amendment Critique

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:

  1. 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.
  2. SB 94 (killed in Senate): repeal concealed-firearm permit requirement.
  3. SB 144 (killed in House committee): exempt soldiers from concealed-firearm permit requirement.
  4. House Bill 1072 (vetoed by Governor): repeal concealed-firearm permit requirement.
  5. HB 1091 (enacted): extend renewal period for concealed-firearm permit.
  6. HB 1127 (enacted): revise concealed-firearm permit renewal process for soldiers stationed out of state.
  7. HB 1135 (killed in House): allow people who shoot other people to recover costs and attorney fees if they are acquitted of wrongdoing.
  8. HB 1147 (enacted): add fingerprint background check to enhanced concealed-firearm permit requirements.
  9. HB 1156 (vetoed by Governor): allow concealed firearms in the Capitol (but not in the Supreme Court chambers).
  10. 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 100%-ers were all Republicans, led by the predictable bang-bangers Senator Stace Nelson and Rep. Lynne DiSanto:SD Citizens for Liberty 2nd Amend Scores 2017 Senate SD Citizens for Liberty 2nd Amend Scores 2017 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.


  1. DR 2017-07-11 12:43

    Even more interesting is Rep Dennert didn’t get a 100 from the NRA

  2. DR 2017-07-11 13:14

    Sorry…SD what ever they are called.

  3. Robin Friday 2017-07-11 16:50

    I’m gratified to learn that “only” four of the ten bills were enacted. I can’t follow it as closely as Cory does, so thank you, Cory. I remain suspicious and frightened (sounding like a neo-con) of the guns-all-over-the-streets and in the schools and colleges and supermarkets concept. What happens if we have a governor who accepts whatever the NRA says and is incapable of thinking for him/herself?

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-07-11 17:18

    Interesting, DR! SDC4L dropped Drew to 89% for his vote against HB 1211, the 60-day grace period for expired permits. Even if I thought concealed-carry was the salvation of the Republic, I could still defend Drew’s vote: guns are serious enough that you should not forget to renew your permits when necessary.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-07-11 17:19

    Robin, the situation of incapability you describe would be a Kristi Noem administration.

  6. leslie 2017-07-11 17:45

    If red and blue America fear and loathe one another equally, and a similar number believe that political violence is acceptable, then why is there so much more of it on the fringes of the right?
    Part of the answer lies in a clear difference between right and left: For the past 40 years, Republicans, parroting the gun-rights movement, have actively promoted the idea that firearms are a vital bulwark against government tyranny.

    That “you can keep the government under control by taking up weapons, found its first serious expression in a law review article published in 1960. And the idea really took hold among a subset of Americans and a subset of gun owners, who argue to this day that this was part of the purpose of the Second Amendment. They talk about the Minutemen and the Revolutionary War and the Declaration of Independence. The idea really took hold in the 1970s and 1980s when the NRA itself began to use this same kind of rhetoric.”
    people who behave aggressively in real-life more likely to endorse violence against political leaders.”

    Liberals believe that mature institutions and the separation of powers are what keep tyranny at bay

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-07-11 20:04

    I’m with you and the liberals, Leslie. Guns aren’t keeping Donald Trump in check. The free press and other civic institutions are. The pen better defends democracy than the sword.

    Interesting to hear the arms-against-tyranny rhetoric catching fire in the 1970s and 1980s. What, were people afraid of hippies?

  8. mike from iowa 2017-07-12 06:46

    Cut and paste my arse, Coyote. Leslie cherry picked a few bits here and there.

  9. Don Coyote 2017-07-12 09:01

    @mia: “Cut and paste my arse, Coyote. Leslie cherry picked a few bits here and there.”

    Call it what you want, but there was not one original word of Leslie’s. No attempt at paraphrasing. No attribution. Bupkis. Just an outright theft of copyrighted material.

  10. mike from iowa 2017-07-12 11:10

    Then you should have accused her of plagiarism.

  11. mike from iowa 2017-07-12 14:36

    Just for fun- my new Fur Fish and Game magazine has a Mossberg Arms ad on the back cover touting a new tactical rifle- Engineered to the Specs of Freedom and Independence.

    What specs exactly? The capability of killing a large number of people or animals w/o having to reload? Is that what freedom and independence are all about?

  12. MC 2017-07-12 16:04

    Even If I scored a 100% There are a few bills that I would have voted against if they made it to the house floor.

    SB89 (#1). The one pulling the trigger is fully responsible for their actions. and they should pay for their actions.

    SB144 (#3) Unless service members have trained in use of force, and maybe in police powers, they have to go through the same process as every one else.

  13. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-07-12 19:43

    MC! You get a 100% from gun people, and you’re trying to talk your way down to a lower score?! Holy cow! You’re not suffering heat stroke, are you? ;-)

    Actually, the sensibility of MC’s points on both SB 89 and SB 144 suggest he is very much in his right mind.

  14. Lucas 2017-07-13 15:19

    These 31 legislators believe they should be able to carry guns pretty much any place. Voters should be asked if they would feel comfortable if any of these legislators carried a gun (concealed or open carry) in a school with their children present, in a bar or a restaurant while they are there having a drink or dinning, or to their place of worship while they are giving reverence to their god.

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