As Gov. Daugaard considers whether to sign or veto House Bill 1271, I hope your newsroom will cover the ways this bill would undermine public safety in South Dakota schools.
HB 1271 would allow teachers, staff and visitors to carry loaded handguns – both openly and concealed – on the premises of private elementary, middle and high schools throughout South Dakota. HB 1271 could also open a loophole that would allow civilians to carry loaded handguns on the premises of public elementary, middle and high schools that host activities organized by churches or other houses of worship.
Teachers and school safety experts oppose allowing guns in schools:
- The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, the nation’s two largest teachers’ organizations, oppose guns in schools.
- The federal government’s chief legal, law enforcement, public health, education and emergency management agencies also all agree that allowing civilians to carry guns in schools is not a sound security practice.
South Dakotans from both major political parties oppose guns in schools as well. In a SurveyUSA poll conducted in February, 68 percent of respondents, including 59 percent of Republicans, said they oppose allowing people to carry loaded guns into K-12 schools.
Last year, Gov. Daugaard showed he was willing to use his veto power to protect public safety, vetoing legislation that would have dismantled the state’s concealed carry permit requirement.
“It is paramount that our state protect the rights of our citizens while at the same time protecting the lives of our citizens,” he wrote at the time. “I believe our current laws appropriately protect both interests.”
I urge you to ask officials from South Dakota school districts and law enforcement agencies about the risks that HB 1271 would pose, and I hope you’ll share their thoughts with your audience.