Pretty much anyone who knows me, knows that preserving our Second Amendment is one of my passions. Probably the major one. Because without the 2A, we cease to be empowered citizens and become nothing more than obedient subjects.
We become helpless prey for criminals who don’t obey laws and always find a way to obtain a firearm. I’m not willing to agree to any proposed “common sense” legislation that leaves me helpless to defend myself. I see no common sense in that approach.
Senate Bill 82, introduced in the 2020 session of the South Dakota state legislature prompted me to travel to Pierre, our state capital. (Pronounced, pier, like the one you fish from, not like the first name of a French guy.) SB 82 is an Extreme Risk Protection Order authorizing the seizure of firearms and ammunition from a law abiding gun owner.
Use the above link to peruse the bill if you’d like to read it. In brief, the bill authorizes law enforcement officers to petition a circuit court to remove the firearms and ammunition from a person when the law enforcement officer believes there is a “high probability that the respondent will cause injury or death to himself, herself, or others, by having a firearm.”
This is a super short summary of the proposed ERPO. Many other facets of the bill provide supposed safeguards for the gun owner, which I personally found laughable. Here are my thoughts after reading the bill several times. This is also my statement at the hearing of the Judiciary Committee:
My introduction to firearms came ten years ago as an author researching my first thriller. I purchased and fired my first pistol in February, 2010. Human Events online magazine published my article describing my experience, titled LOVE AT FIRST SHOT.
As a responsibly trained concealed carry holder ever since 2010, I have observed other states enacting strict gun laws. I’ve always considered myself fortunate, blessed even, to live in South Dakota, a state with a healthy relationship toward responsible gun owners and with an understanding of the importance of our Second Amendment on a local, state and national level.
Senate Bill 82 casts a definite pall over that relationship and understanding, by creating an unnecessary and provocative relationship between gun owners and law enforcement officers. It introduces a police state mentality into South Dakota, reserved specifically for its law abiding gun owners. A relationship that should be based on mutual respect becomes one based on suspicion and fear.
A careful read of the bill reveals language that seems purposely vague. Terms such as: what an officer believes, high probability, and good faith are open to wide interpretation. How are the law enforcement officer’s interpretation of the facts verified? Who decides that it’s an impeccable interpretation? Who defines behavior aberrant enough to warrant a LEO requesting the ERPO? What is to prevent a disgruntled ex-spouse, friend, business associate, customer, or in essence, ANYONE from notifying and collaborating with a LEO to request the petition?
This legislation destroys the right to due process. In the United States, a citizen is presumed innocent until proven guilty. This legislation makes gun owners presumed guilty and leaves the burden of proof of their innocence squarely on their shoulders. This alone ensures that this legislation will contribute to the destruction of reputations, cause loss of income and ruin lives.
As is clearly demonstrated in city after city across the country that has indulged in the enactment of strict gun control, anyone with malicious intent can obtain a weapon, whether it is a firearm, a knife, baseball bat, car or truck. This legislation opens a Pandora’s Box of possibilities for abuse of power.
It represents the tip of a large iceberg called Disarmament. And that should never, ever become even a remote possibility in the great state of South Dakota.
Several other citizens testified against the bill, as did Lt. Governor Larry Rhoden, NRA Spokesperson Brian Gosch and several Judiciary Committee members. Senator Rusch, the bill’s primary sponsor, spoke several times in support of SB82, as did a Democrat member of the Judiciary Committee.
Senate Bill 82 was effectively killed by being deferred to day 41 of a 40 day legislative session. Of course, other bills designed by well-meaning legislators, supported by well-funded groups like Bloomberg-financed Moms Demand Action (who were absent from the bill’s hearing) will be introduced.
Each one must be carefully researched and rebutted. Speaking only for myself, I will never stop resisting the ever encroaching limits to my right to defend myself and those I love. As much as I respect our law enforcement officers, the Supreme Court ruled that they have no constitutional duty to protect us. Besides, lethal encounters are usually over before police officers arrive.
In essence, protecting myself is my responsibility. It is also my right, guaranteed by the Second Amendment.