- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 12, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - The South Dakota House killed legislation Wednesday that would have allowed people with concealed carry permits to bring guns into the state Capitol.

After a heated debate and a controversial amendment, the bill failed on a vote of 33-34. A similar measure proposed by the same sponsor, Rep. Betty Olson, R-Prairie City, failed to pass the House about two weeks ago. That bill would have allowed state and local officials to bring weapons into public buildings.

Olson said lawmakers need to carry guns in the Capitol to protect themselves against possible attackers. But opponents, including Rep. Troy Heinert, said legislators need to move away from a culture of fear.

“Why is this here again?” said Heinert, D-Mission.

A slim majority passed an amendment changing the bill to allow guns in the building except when the Legislature is in session, when the Supreme Court meets and during the governor’s annual budget address in December. The author of the amendment, Rep. Steve Hickey, R- Sioux Falls, said he intended to relax the current policy of gun-free zones.

But Rep. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark, accused Hickey of playing games and criticized the language in the amendment, which would have classified the Capitol as a county courthouse on gun-free days. Guns are banned in county courthouses.

Greenfield said Hickey’s amendment was “the most insane, idiotic thing I’ve ever seen on this floor.”

Hickey argued that he was not playing games and hoped the bill would pass.

“Games are being played here,” Hickey said, adding that the National Rifle Association has increased pressure on legislators.

Other critics of the amendment argued that it defeated the main intent of the bill.

“This is a long ways from what I intended to bring,” Olson said. “It’s been stripped almost bare naked,” she said, but urged the House to pass the amended bill anyway.

Olson said if the bill had progressed to the Senate, that chamber might have restored the measure to her original proposal.



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