State legislators tackle issues on guns and mental health - KOTA Territory News

State legislators tackle issues on guns and mental health

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The discussion over guns has people in South Dakota fired up, particularly when it comes to House Bill 1087.

"Oh it was nice to pass the first hurdle there. There was some controversy over it," said Representative Scott Craig of Rapid City. "People are still concerned about having an armed presence on the school."

The District 33 representative is the bill's sponsor. At this Saturday's legislative cracker barrel, Scott said the proposed bill doesn't require school districts to make teachers carry guns to school, it just gives them an option.

"I want to remind people this is about local control," said the Pastor. "It mandates nothing for school boards that do not want this, no armed presence in the school, they actually want to vote for this bill because it gives them total control."

Retired police chief and state senator, Craig Tieszen -- who initially thought this piece of legislation was reactionary-- says he's now on board.

"I think a lot of people are finally getting a chance to look at the bill and see what it does and doesn't do," said the District 34 senator. "This is really about local control and giving local school districts and boards an opportunity to do what's best for the security in their community."

But lawmakers say to guarantee the success of that bill it must work hand in hand with House Bill 1188.

"South Dakota is one of 8 states that has no standardized procedures for reporting dangerous mentally ill," said Tieszen.

The proposed bill would allow law enforcement to run a check to see if a person is mentally ill before they can make a firearm purchase. And although there's a chance both bills may not receive bi–partisan approval legislators are happy a discussion centered on guns is taking place.

House Bill 1087 passed in the house last week and is on its way to the Senate, while House Bill 1188 was read before the Committee on Health and Human Services. The discussion, along with the 88th legislative session continues in Pierre Monday morning.

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