As a lawsuit challenging South Dakota’s concealed-weapons law gets the attention of national groups, the top Republican in the South Dakota Senate says he doesn’t see a need for the law to be changed.
A British citizen who lives in Sioux Falls sued the state earlier this month after he was not allowed to renew his concealed-weapons permit. The Legislature changed the concealed weapons law in 2002 to only allow United States citizens to obtain permits.
Senate Republican Leader Russell Olson, of Wentworth, said his main priority is preserving gun rights for U.S. citizens.
“I’ll fight for the rights of the citizens of South Dakota,” Olson said Friday. “My concern is for the citizens of our state and our nation.”
“Foreign nationals don’t fall under my umbrella,” he added in a separate interview.
House Republican Leader David Lust, of Rapid City, said he hasn’t studied the issue enough to take a position.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which helped bring the case on behalf of British national Wayne Smith, says all legal residents in the state are required to have the same opportunity to get a permit. It says the current law violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of laws.
“The Fourteenth Amendment extends to non-citizens as well as citizens and generally prohibits states from passing laws that treat protected classes of people differently,” Robert Doody, executive director of the ACLU’s South Dakota chapter, said in an email.
National gun-rights advocates said they agree with the ACLU, even though they question the group’s involvement in the case.
“As far as we’re concerned, we want Wayne Smith to be able to carry concealed,” said Erich Pratt, a spokesman for Gun Owners of America. “He’s a law-abiding resident of this country.”