HB 1212 “Stand your Ground” Bill to receive full vote on SD Senate floor

Published: Mar. 5, 2021 at 8:59 AM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The South Dakota legislature has not seen the last of HB 1212, State Representative Kevin Jensen’s (R-Canton) “Stand Your Ground” bill.

The bill was recalled from the Senate Judiciary committee via procedural maneuver commonly referred to as a “smoke out.” Members of the Senate have to agree to bring the bill to the floor with one third of the members present. HB 1212 was brought back by a 20 to 14 margin.

Jensen says that he views the bill less as a “Stand your Ground” bill, and more as a “No Duty to Retreat” bill. He says it clarifies decades old language and deals with more than just guns.

“I am an enhanced concealed carry instructor, former law enforcement (officer),“ Jensen said. ”I have been doing concealed carry classes for five and a half years. I have taught almost 2,000 people and in almost every class I get the same question, when can they use a handgun? Or any other weapon, could be a baseball bat or a golf club.”

The bill aims to clarify when deadly force can be used. Further, it gives immunity to the person who used the force as protection.

The South Dakota American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) testified against the bill Thursday morning in committee. They argue that the bill doesn’t set a clear standard as to when deadly force can be used, and that minority populations will be disproportionately affected.

“This bill really does very little to change the law except to make it more accessible,” Jensen said. “Easier to read, and in layman’s terms, so you didn’t have to find a lawyer to know whether you were right or wrong on an issue.”

“I don’t think that it is just a clarification (bill),” said Jett Jonelis, SD ACLU Advocacy Manager. “If we wanted just a clarification that is a reasonable goal, to clarify what rights people have in those situations. However, if we wanted just a clarification, we could do that in a way that doesn’t put our communities at risk.”

The bill itself is likely to be brought up for a vote sometime early next week. Though the “smoke out” has been a considerably rare mechanism used in previous sessions, it has already been used a number of times during the 2021 legislative session.

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