- Associated Press - Monday, February 9, 2015

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - South Dakota may soon join a handful of other states where it is legal to carry a concealed pistol without a permit.

The House State Affairs Committee on Monday narrowly approved the measure, which removes the requirement for a concealed pistol permit from state law and eliminates penalties for carrying without a permit.

Openly carrying a firearm, such as in a holster on the hip, is legal in South Dakota. But if the pistol was covered with a jacket or sport coat, a permit is required under state law.

Rep. Jim Stalzer, a Sioux Falls Republican who is sponsoring the bill, told the committee that he has a concealed pistol permit and has been in situations where he’s been glad to have it. He said his daughter began receiving threatening phone calls and debated getting a permit before ultimately deciding against it.

“What if your life is threatened and you have to wait a week to get a permit?” Stalzer said.

Stalzer says he knows people, including his wife, who accidentally let their permits expire and have carried their weapons as criminals under state law. He doesn’t believe that otherwise-upstanding citizens should be punished for such a lapse.

“I don’t think it should be a penalty for a law abiding citizen to exercise a constitutional right,” he said.

South Dakota Sheriff’s Association Executive Director Staci Ackerman said South Dakotans like getting a permit from law enforcement and they say it’s reassuring.

About 4 percent of Pennington county’s permit applications are denied because an applicant is ineligible as a result of felony conviction or mental illness, among other reasons, Ackerman said as she urged lawmakers to oppose the measure.

“We do have people coming in applying for permits who are not eligible under state or federal law,” Ackerman said. “We do deny permits.”

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