Concealed carry measure back in Legislature

Amy Poppinga

Amy Poppinga

A measure to allow concealed weapons on South Dakota’s public universities has returned to the state Legislature.

Last year, the concealed weapons bill, HB 1261, was introduced in the House but failed in the Senate State Affairs Committee.This year, the measure, SB 82, was introduced in the Senate and received its first hearing in the Senate State Affairs Committee on Jan. 28 at 10 a.m.

When the bill was introduced last year, it sparked debate and controversy across campus. Groups like the Students’ Association (SA), the SDSU Academic Senate, the SDSU American Association of University Professors and the SDSU Career Service Advisory Council formally opposed the measure. In April 2008, a group of student held an Empty Holster Protest to show their support for concealed carry on campus.

Debate on the issue began this year after the bill was first read in the senate on Jan. 23. At SDSU, the Students’ Association passed Resolution 08-19-R, which opposes SB 82.

“My constituents, the students, have voiced concern about this issue like they voiced concern last year,” said John C. Sandstrom, SA representative for the graduate school.

Sandstrom said he supports the second amendment and the right to bear arms, but many people at SDSU think having weapons on campus could lead to safety concerns.

“Students across campus are concerned with having guns on campus,” he said.

On the other side of the issue, Brian Eckrich, a junior chemistry major and the president of the SDSU Rifle Association, supports having concealed weapons at SDSU since people can carry concealed weapons in most public places.

“I think that a campus is no different than any other place in South Dakota,” he said.

For Eckrich, the issue comes down to protection. He said SB 82 does not give guns to everyone; instead, it gives those already able to carry concealed weapons a way to protect themselves on campus.

“It gives a person a method of self defense,” he said.

SDSU students on both sides of the issue traveled to Pierre on Jan. 28 to voice their opinions.