South Dakota eliminates fees on carry permits

(AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

While constitutional carry is the Holy Grail of gun rights these days–and a number of states have embraced them–there are varying degrees of laws regarding the carry of firearms. From “may issue” to constitutional carry, there’s a lot that can happen.

In South Dakota, Gov. Kristi Noem just signed a bill that just went beyond constitutional carry in and of itself.

South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem on Tuesday signed legislation that repeals all concealed carry permit fees in the state.

“Three years ago, I took a bold stand by signing constitutional carry into law to ensure there were no barriers between South Dakotans and their rights,” Noem told Fox News Digital. “This week, I took the step to remove a financial barrier. It shouldn’t cost you a penny to exercise your Second Amendment rights. Government exists to protect our rights, not profit from them.”

The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action said the measure, Senate Bill 212, “reduces the cost of South Dakota carry permits to $0.”

Now, South Dakota already has constitutional carry. What the bill does is remove the fee for permits, which means those who wish for a permit due to reciprocity can do so without having to pay for it.

It looks like a small thing, but it’s really not.

The thing is, this could also be one of those degrees between “may issue” and constitutional carry. Imagine a state that’s not ready to pass constitutional carry, but considers a bill like this instead. It still removes a burden from law-abiding citizens, it just does it in a different order.

Hell, my first instinct when I saw the news was to think that’s what South Dakota had done–I’d forgotten they’d passed constitutional carry back in 2019. In fairness, a lot has happened since then.

Still, this is a great move that a lot of other states should follow up on.

There’s no reason people should have to pay a fee just to exercise their basic Second Amendment rights. While the permit shouldn’t be required, it still is in a slight majority of states. As such, people still need permits, which can be costly.

South Dakota’s new measure eliminates that burden. They’re not treating gun owners as a money tree they can just pull cash from year after year, and that’s an incredible change of pace.

Now, for every other state to pass this, whether or not they do it before or after constitutional carry is irrelevant in my eyes. They just need to do it.

Of course, not all will and we all know those who are least likely to pass something like this.

The funny thing is that I can’t imagine a single valid argument they can present against it. Especially as we know they’d never tolerate quite the same fees for protests–fees exist for protests, but they’re generally either minor or serve more like a fee for services incurred by the protest.

Unfortunately, I’m unsure just how many states will follow South Dakota’s lead. I just know it won’t be enough.