PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A bill that would have given South Dakota state gun laws supremacy over those of federal and local governments failed in a legislative panel Tuesday.
The House Local Government Committee voted 8-4 to reject the measure.
The bill would have made it a felony for law enforcement officers to carry out federal or local firearms regulations that were more restrictive than state laws. It also would have invalidated any presidential executive orders and local ordinances that restricted firearm possession and use.
Supporters of the bill, including a representative from the National Association for Gun Rights, argued that it was necessary to preserve the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding South Dakotans.
Opponents said the bill is both unconstitutional and unenforceable. They said the state cannot place its laws above those of the federal government, and local cities and counties should have the right to pass their own policies.
The main sponsor of the bill, Rep. Blaine “Chip” Campbell, R-Rapid City, said it’s important for states to protect themselves from federal overreach.
The goal of the bill, Campbell said, “is to protect the citizens of South Dakota and their Second Amendment rights.”
Brenden Boudreau with the National Association for Gun Rights also testified in support of the bill.
There is a national effort to take guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens without due process and “anti-gun forces in Washington (D.C.) are working hand-in-hand with the Obama administration,” Boudreau said.
He said gun owners can get trapped in a web of local laws policing where they can carry their weapons.
Opponents of the bill strongly objected to a provision that would make felons out of law enforcement personnel who enforce federal laws or local ordinances.
“This bill places our officers in what I think is an impossible situation,” said Dick Tieszen of the South Dakota Sheriffs’ Association.
Representatives of county and city governments said the bill threatened local authority.
Jenna Howell, with the state Department of Public Safety, cited a statement from the Legislative Research Council, which described the bill as unconstitutional and unenforceable.
“There is a supremacy clause issue,” Howell said, referring to a provision of the U.S. Constitution that gives federal laws precedence over state laws.
Karen Soli, D-Sioux Falls, said she voted against the bill after hearing testimony from the Department of Public Safety and the sheriffs’ group.
“I don’t feel like I have a choice but to trust these authorities,” Soli said.
After the hearing, Campbell said he will not rewrite and reintroduce the bill, because it won’t have any teeth if he removes the provision to charge enforcement officers with felonies.
Campbell said he will continue to guard state’s rights with other legislation.
“We’re always attempting to protect our rights from federal encroachment,” he said.
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