Our Way of Life
By Rep. Kristi Noem
Our Constitution makes it clear: “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” For much of American history, that point was understood.
Maybe that’s why the right to bear arms is one of the least debated constitutional amendments in Supreme Court history. In fact, the landmark 2008 Heller decision was the first time in 50-plus years that the Court weighed in on the Second Amendment and examples of cases before 1939 are few and far between.
I believe that’s because for most of American history, firearms were integral to the way we lived. People understood how to use them and taught their children how to as well. In South Dakota, that way of life still exists. I’m really proud of that, and I will always fight to protect it.
This December, the House passed legislation to further secure our Second Amendment rights. More specifically, the package included the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which I cosponsored. If this legislation is signed into law, those permitted to carry a concealed handgun will be able to bring it to other states that permit concealed carry. We have a similar reciprocity agreement on the books in South Dakota that lets non-residents carry in the state, but I believe that right should be protected nationwide.
This was the second major bill I’ve helped pass to protect the Second Amendment this year. Under President Obama, the Social Security Administration had overstepped its mission and discriminated against certain Americans with disabilities. More specifically, federal bureaucrats barred some Social Security beneficiaries who don’t manage their own finances from purchasing guns. I cosponsored legislation reversing this decision, which Congress passed and President Trump signed into law this February.
The Second Amendment is as important and relevant today as it was when the Founding Fathers wrote it into our Constitution more than 250 years ago.
I live just down the road from Kones Korner in Castlewood. It started as a gas station in the 1920s, but over the years the owner turned his gun hobby into an extension of the business. He now carries an inventory of more than 2,500 guns. He’s built a livelihood around the way we live in South Dakota, around the Second Amendment. And he isn’t the only one.
Hunting is a huge contributor to our state’s economy. In 2016, hunters spent $683 million in the state, supporting thousands of jobs and creating countless opportunities for folks to thrive in South Dakota. I know when our kids were little we started a hunting lodge, which I managed for a number of years. It was rewarding work that helped us make ends meet when yields were down.
I am proud of the way we live in South Dakota – of our hobbies and our traditions. Many of us grew up with a shotgun in the pickup, learning gun safety from a young age. We celebrate the liberties and freedoms we’re entitled to under the Second Amendment – constitutionally protected liberties and freedoms that should not be infringed upon.