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Nesiba Tones Down Call for Awareness of Gun Violence to Get Resolution Past Committee

Senator Reynold Nesiba (D-15/Sioux Falls) and most of the Democratic caucus, plus two politically incautious Republican sponsors, offer Senate Concurrent Resolution 603, this reasonable, footnoted statement on gun safety:

A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION, Recognizing the importance of gun safety.

WHEREAS, public safety is paramount, it is desirable for citizens of the state of South Dakota to reduce gun deaths and at the same time to fully respect the freedoms guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution; and

WHEREAS, every day, one hundred Americans die by firearm and others are injured by firearms1; and

WHEREAS, in the years 2004-2015, there were 798 firearm suicides in South Dakota, the most common method used2; and

WHEREAS, in 2017, more South Dakotans died due to firearms (101 deaths) than by drug overdoses (73 deaths)3; and

WHEREAS, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, South Dakota had the 6th highest rate of suicide in the United States4; and

WHEREAS, sixty-four percent of South Dakota veteran suicides in 2015 were by firearm5:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Senate of the Ninety-Fifth Legislature of the State of South Dakota, the House of Representatives concurring therein, encourage all citizens of the great state of South Dakota to support their communities’ efforts to honor and value human lives by recognizing the importance of gun safety.


(1) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) Fatal Injury Reports.



(4) Deaths: Final Data for 2017. National Vital Statistics Reports. Volume 68, Number 9. June 24, 2019. (last accessed December 2019)

(5) U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “State Data Sheets –2005-2017 State Data Appendix,” available at (last accessed December 2019) [links added; 2020 SCR 603, as amended in Senate Health and Human Services, 2020.02.21]

Pediatrician, fourteen-year Air Force veteran, and South Dakota Moms Demand Action leader Shannon Hoime came from Brandon to testify in support of SCR 603. Citing her extensive military training in preventative medicine, Hoime told Senate Health and Human Services on February 21 that SCR 603 is a “starting point” for educating South Dakotans about the public health risks of firearms and saving the lives of South Dakota gun owners and their families.

Moms Demand Action tried to stop last year’s radical but rushed and Governor-beloved permitless-pants-pistol bill. They had better luck resisting last year’s fear-mongering guns-on-campus bill. This year twelve bills dealing with guns hit the hopper; ten sought to make it easier in one way or another for adults or kids to carry guns around town, schools, or courthouses. Only two limit access to firearms; the only substantive intervention, Senate Bill 82, sought to allow law enforcement to obtain a risk protection order to confiscate weapons and ammunition from violent or mentally ill individuals who pose a grave risk to themselves or others. Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden and the NRA rushed in to make sure that bill died in committee on February 4.

In discussion of SCR 603, Senator Lance Russell (R-30/Hot Springs) asked Senator Nesiba if all the stats cited in the resolution are correct. Senator Nesiba said he took the unusual step of including footnotes in the resolution to underscore their reliability.

Senator Wayne Steinhauer (R-9/Hartford) thanked the sponsor and the doctor for presenting their information in a “non-threatening type of way” and offering “tremendous respect” for “those of us who love our guns.”

Even with solid evidence to back a toothless resolution that requires no funding or real action from the Legislature, Senator Nesiba still had to water down SCR 603 to avoid threatening all those gun lovers. On his recommendation, Senate Health and Human Services amended SCR 603 down from a call to recognize June 5, 2020, as Gun Safety Awareness Day down to a mere exhortation to recognize the importance of gun safety. Around the country, Moms Demand Action has promoted the first Friday in June as National Gun Violence Awareness Day, on which safety advocates make their point by wearing orange, much to the chagrin of the NRA.

Nesiba’s amendment also prefaced the resolution with the statement of full respect for the Second Amendment seen above and then struck the following provisions and footnotes:

WHEREAS, studies show that a firearm in the home TRIPLES the suicide risk for every household member6; and

WHEREAS, studies show that eighty-five percent of firearms used in teenage suicide were obtained from that teenager’s own home7; and

WHEREAS, studies show that, amongst children and teenagers who bring a firearm to school, approximately eighty percent of them obtained the firearm from their parent’s or another relative’s home8; and

WHEREAS, protecting public safety in the communities they serve is among an elected representative’s highest responsibilities; and

WHEREAS, it is desirable for citizens and public servants of the state of South Dakota to renew their commitment to reduce gun deaths; to pledge to do all they can, while respecting the freedoms guaranteed by the constitution, to keep firearms out of the wrong hands; and to encourage responsible gun ownership to keep our children safe….

…(6) Anglemyer A, Horvath T, Rutherford G. The accessibility of firearms and risk for suicide and homicide victimization among household members: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2014; 160(2): 101-110.

(7) Suicide Prevention Resource Center – Counseling on Access to Lethal Means. (last accessed December 2019)

(8) Woodrow Cox J, Rich S. ‘‘The gun’s not in the closet.’” The Washington Post. August 1, 2018. The study analyzed acts of gun violence at primary and secondary schools involving shooters under the age of 18 since 1999 finding that of the 105 cases in which the gun’s source was identified, 80 percent were acquired from the child’s home or those of relatives or friends [links added; 2020 SCR 603, excerpts, as originally introduced, 2020.01.30, amended out 2020.02.21].

Even in a mere resolution, South Dakotans trying to prevent gun violence have to tiptoe around the hypersensitivities of legislators who are more focused on putting more guns in more hands in more places than on curbing the death and destruction caused by firearms in South Dakota. Senate Health and Human Services passed SCR 603 without debate or dissent on February 21; the full Senate has yet to take up that muted discussion of gun safety.

One Comment

  1. Debbo 2020-03-02

    As long as they keep their A+ NRA rating and cash flowing, they don’t care how many people die. That’s supporting the troops, for sure. 🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬

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