PIERRE, SD — Backers of a bill that would allow concealed weapons to be carried in the Capitol said it would enhance the building’s security. That was the testimony heard in the House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
Sen. Jim Stalzer, R-Sioux Falls, said SB115 would allow the concealed carry of weapons in the Capitol except in the Supreme Court and areas where access is controlled by security personnel. Stalzer said SB115 is almost identical to a bill that was endorsed by both houses of the Legislature two years ago and then vetoed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
According to SB115, only people who have a South Dakota enhanced concealed carry permit will be allowed to bring their weapons into the Capitol. According to Saltzer, there are about 4,800 of those permits in the state.
To qualify for an enhanced concealed carry permit applicants must take a qualifying handgun course taught by a certified instructor and undergo an FBI fingerprint background check.
“They are trained in the safe use of firearms,” Stalzer said of the permit holders.
In order to carry a weapon in the Capitol, 24 hours notice must be given to the superintendent of the S.D. Highway Patrol. That notice can last for no more than 30 days before it must be renewed.
Stalzer said making concealed carry available was a matter of security for people who work in the Capitol.
“When we leave, most of the security goes with us,” Stalzer said.
S.D. Auditor Rich Sattgast said that’s why he supports the bill, calling the security in the Capitol during the session “enhanced.”
“That’s not the security we have going on the other 200 days of the year,” Sattgast said.
According to Sattgast, two members of the highway patrol are assigned to cover the entire Capitol complex. When they are called to another part of the complex “this building is then unprotected.” Sattgast said. “It’s up to us to defend ourselves.”
No one spoke in opposition to the bill in the committee hearing. The committee passed the bill on to the House floor on an 8-4 vote. It has been endorsed by the Senate on a 20-13 vote.