- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 20, 2015

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - A proposal to allow active military members’ spouses to hold a South Dakota concealed weapon permit is making headway in the state Legislature.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Attorney General Marty Jackley’s measure on Tuesday and sent it to the Senate.

Under the plan, spouses of military personnel who have permanent residency in South Dakota but are posted elsewhere could apply for a South Dakota permit that would give them permission to carry a concealed weapon in the roughly 25 states that have reciprocity. The permit would be necessary if they visited South Dakota and wanted to carry a firearm.

Current state law only extends those benefits to serving military personnel, and not their spouses.

Jackley’s measure also authorizes military spouses who move to South Dakota from a different state to waive the 30-day wait period requirement for residency before they can get a permit.

Jackley used the example of a man who moved to Germany with his wife, who is in the military. The man wanted to renew his permit and potentially carry a weapon in South Dakota if he returned on vacation, but couldn’t fulfill the 30-day state residency requirement because he was overseas.

“The bill makes it family-friendly,” said Republican Sen. Jeff Monroe, who will present the bill to his chamber’s floor. “It makes it the way it should have been before.”

Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom said his department gets 8 to 10 requests per year from families inquiring about the permitting process, but he noted the number is probably conservative since most military spouses already know the rules governing the permitting process.

Thom said the measure makes sense, given the rights already afforded to active duty military personnel.

“Since (the spouses are) here with them, why not give them the same opportunity?” he said.

Thom said he hadn’t heard of any opposition.

“We should do everything we can to legally support our military, not put up roadblocks because of their circumstance,” Jackley said after the hearing. “I look at this as one way to take down one of those unnecessary roadblocks for our military and their families.”

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Associated Press writer Kevin Burbach in Sioux Falls contributed to this report.

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