During a hearing yesterday in the South Dakota House Judiciary Committee, Moms Demand Action volunteers joined law enforcement officials and public safety advocates in providing testimony against HB 1052, a dangerous bill that would make it illegal in South Dakota for any public officer or employee of the state, including state and local law enforcement officers, to assist with the enforcement of federal gun safety laws, and penalize those who attempt to enforce them. The South Dakota Sheriffs’ Association, the Department of Public Safety, South Dakota Network Against Family Violence, State’s Attorneys Association, South Dakota Police Chiefs Association, and the Association of County Commissioners all provided testimony against HB 1052 in yesterday’s hearing.
HB 1052 would also make state officers liable for aiding the federal government in enforcing gun laws, and subject local officials to expensive fines and potential criminal charges. State laws that prohibit state and local law enforcement from cooperating with federal law enforcement are a danger to public safety and make it difficult to protect communities from gun violence.
Federal nullification laws severely limit even the most basic law enforcement cooperation between state and federal entities, potentially preventing South Dakota law enforcement’s participation in federal-state joint task forces and interfering with a broad range of criminal investigations. Law enforcement in other states that have enacted similar policies report experiencing significant challenges.
Since Missouri passed federal gun law nullification last year, elected officials from across the political spectrum, as well as law enforcement leaders and county prosecutors, have expressed that the policy has made it much more difficult for state and local law enforcement to do their jobs, filing lawsuits and letters to address the law that is currently hindering their work. Before the law went into effect in Missouri, nearly a quarter of state and local enforcement officials who work directly with A.T.F. — 12 of 53 officers — withdrew from joint collaborations, and task forces addressing gun violence continue to be shut down.
According to Everytown’s new gun law rankings report, South Dakota has the fifth-weakest gun laws in the country, with essentially no foundational gun laws, like the requirement of a background check for firearm purchases or a permit to carry a concealed handgun in public. Learn more about gun violence in South Dakota here.