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South Dakota Lawmakers Pass Dangerous Legislation to Allow More Guns in Schools; South Dakota Moms Demand Action Responds

February 27, 2024

PIERRE, S.D. — The South Dakota chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroot network, issued the following statement after the South Sakota legislature passed SB 203. This bill would expand who can carry firearms in public schools in South Dakota. Currently only law enforcement officers or school sentinels are permitted to carry guns in schools in South Dakota. SB 203 would expand this to all enhanced concealed carry permit holders in the general public. 

“Instead of prioritizing measures that will actually keep gun violence out of classrooms, extremist lawmakers in South Dakota lawmakers are politicizing falsehoods spread by the gun lobby that claim allowing school districts to arm more people will create a safer environment for students. In reality, reckless legislation like this only increases the likelihood that a student will have access to a gun, potentially hurting themselves, their classmates or their teachers,” said Joel Kaskiken, a volunteer with the South Dakota chapter of Moms Demand Action. “In a state where our teachers are already armed, how far will extremists go to ensure our schools are militarized and littered with guns? This political measure is devastating to all families in South Dakota who should have the right to send their children to school without the fear of gun violence.”

“We already know what policies are most effective at reducing gun violence. We need background checks, red flag laws, restoring our permitting system, and getting assault weapons off our streets – NOT putting more guns in school,” said Jayden Speed, a member of the Students Demand Action National Advisory Board. “Prioritizing safety and the lives of students doesn’t include arming school staff. The action of extremist lawmakers to push a ‘guns everywhere agenda’ is out of touch with the values of everyday South Dakotans.”  

Research shows that allowing more people to bring guns into schools introduces new risks of gun violence in schools and puts the lives of students, teachers, and law enforcement in danger. Arming people on campus only increases the chances of students experiencing gun violence at school. We’re seeing the consequences of extreme gun laws in other states: states with the weakest gun laws tend to have higher rates of gun violence than states with stronger gun laws.

Allowing guns in schools is opposed by school safety experts, teachers, and law enforcement, and with good reason. First, when a gun is in the classroom, students can get access to it. There have been multiple incidents of students and teachers finding misplaced firearms: in bathrooms, locker rooms, and even sporting events. Second, the notion of a highly trained good samaritan armed with a gun, able to respond as quickly as trained law enforcement, is a myth. Law enforcement officers receive hundreds of hours of training but South Dakota would allow the general public to carry in schools with, potentially, far less training than police officers.
According to Everytown’s Gun Law Rankings, South Dakota has the sixth-weakest gun laws in the country, with essentially no foundational gun laws such as a background check requirement for firearm purchases or a requirement that gun owners obtain a permit to carry a concealed handgun in public. South Dakota law also allows people to carry hidden, loaded handguns in public without a permit or safety training. South Dakota has a Shoot First law, meaning there is no duty to retreat before using lethal force in public. Learn more about gun violence in South Dakota here.

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