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South Dakota Gun Control Laws

The role of gun control laws is the source of much debate throughout the United States. While the federal government has limited laws about the manufacture, ownership, and use of firearms, state gun control laws may often go further. Some states expand gun regulations, addressing issues of registration of firearms and rules for holding a license or permit to carry. Other states provide few restrictions beyond federal law.

Federal law provides a baseline or starting point for weapons control. Laws restrict ownership of fully automatic weapons like machine guns. They also set forth legal disabilities for owning or possessing a firearm. Federal firearms laws include bans on firearm possession to felons, those addicted to or using drugs, and those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence. 

When someone purchases a firearm from a federally licensed firearms dealer, the seller engages the FBI's National Instant Background Check System (NICS) to verify that the purchaser is able to possess the weapon.

South Dakota Gun Laws

South Dakota has some of the least restrictive gun laws in the nation. In 2019, South Dakota enacted a permitless carry law. Anyone who is 18 years of age and does not fall under any state or federal prohibition can carry a firearm in the state. State law does not ban assault weapons, large-capacity magazines, or ghost guns. Ghost guns include those that can be made from a kit or with the use of a 3D printer. They can be undetectable. 

South Dakota does not provide a waiting period for the purchase of a firearm. Private sale purchases can circumvent the background check that occurs in transactions with a licensed dealer.

The movement toward permitless carry of firearms has gained momentum in recent years. More than half the states now have variations of these laws that provide for the legal carrying of a handgun in public, either concealed or open. Like other states with permitless carry, South Dakota maintains a concealed pistol permit process for reciprocity. This lets South Dakota permit holders travel with their firearms to states that will recognize their permit.

South Dakota offers three types of permits: a regular permit, a gold card permit, and an enhanced permit. The secretary of state provides information on all three permits. Their office issues the permits sometime after the application is made with the sheriff of the county of residence. 

South Dakota is a "shall issue" state for gun permits. This means that the government shall issue a permit if the applicant meets the objective criteria set forth in the law. To obtain a regular permit you must be at least 18 years old, not be otherwise prohibited from firearm possession under state or federal law, and complete a criminal background check. A background investigation includes a computer check of available online records and a check using NICS. 

To obtain a gold card permit, you must also submit to an FBI fingerprint background check and periodic background checks through NICS. To obtain an enhanced permit, you must complete the same requirements for the other two permits and also complete a qualifying handgun course. 

South Dakota permits are not available to non-residents. The state also has a preemption statute, so a municipality cannot place additional restrictions on gun permits or other established firearms control laws different from state law.

Gun owners choosing to carry firearms in the state need to be aware that there are location restrictions in state and federal law. In South Dakota, these may be state laws related to the unlawful use of weapons. State-prohibited locations include:

  • A county courthouse
  • The State Capitol
  • Elementary and secondary schools, including school premises and on school vehicles
  • A licensed establishment that derives more than half its total income from the sale of malt or alcoholic beverages

There are exceptions in the law for law enforcement officers, active-duty military, holders of enhanced gun permits in certain instances, and for school security. The state attorney general's office offers training information for the school sentinel program. This program allows a school board to authorize employees or volunteers to carry firearms on school premises for security purposes.


The main provisions of South Dakota gun control laws are listed in the table below.

Relevant Statutes (Laws)

South Dakota Codified Laws (SDCL), Title 22, Chapter 22-14, Unlawful Use of Weapons and

  • Possession of firearm with altered serial number - Section 22-14-5
  • Possession of controlled weapon—Felony--Exceptions - Section 22-14-6
  • Possession of firearm by one with prior violent crime conviction or certain drug-related conviction—Felony - Section 22-14-15
  • Possession of firearm by one with prior drug conviction - Section 22-14.15.1
  • Possession of firearm by one convicted of misdemeanor crime involving domestic violence - Section 22-14-15.2

SDCL, Title 23, Chapter 23-7, Firearms Control

  • Permit to carry concealed pistol—Background investigation - Section 23-7-7
  • Requirements for issuance of temporary permit - Section 23-7-7.1
  • Application for permit, enhanced permit, or gold card permit to carry concealed pistol - Section 23-7-8
  • Form and contents of permit, enhanced permit, and gold card permit - Section 23-7-8.1
  • Age requirement for enhanced permit - Section 23-7-54.2
  • Carrying concealed pistol in malt or alcoholic beverage establishment prohibited - Section 23-7-70

SDCL, Title 13, Chapter 13-32

Illegal Arms

The following are illegal in South Dakota:

  • Silencers
  • Machine guns
  • Short shotguns
  • Firearms with a serial number removed or altered

Waiting Period

South Dakota does not have a waiting period to purchase a gun.

Who May Not Own

It is illegal to possess a firearm under state law if a person:

  • Has a prior conviction for a violent crime or certain felony drug crimes in the previous 15 years
  • Has been convicted of felony drug crime in the previous five years
  • Has a misdemeanor conviction for a domestic violence offense in the previous year
  • Is a minor (under 18 years old), unless in presence of a parent or legal guardian
It is illegal to possess a firearm under federal law under more circumstances. See 18 U.S.C. Section 922(g).

License Required?

South Dakota does not require a license to own a gun.

Concealed Carry License Required?

A license or permit is not required to carry a concealed weapon in South Dakota.

Open Carried Allowed?

Yes. The state does not prohibit the open carrying of firearms. However, location restrictions may apply.

Eligibility for a Concealed Carry License

Concealed carry permits are no longer required in South Dakota. However, the state continues to offer them, and some people obtain them to be able to carry a concealed firearm in states that recognize South Dakota's permit. To obtain a permit, a person must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Be a citizen or legal resident of the United States
  • Have physically resided in the county where the application is being made for at least thirty days immediately preceding the date of the application
  • Have never pled guilty to, pled nolo contendere to, or been convicted of a felony or a crime of violence
  • Not be habitually in an intoxicated or drugged condition
  • Have no history of violence
  • Not have been found in the previous 10 years to be a danger to others or a danger to self and not currently be adjudged mentally incompetent
  • Have had no violation of South Dakota's firearm or drug laws in the five years preceding the date of application or not be currently charged under indictment or information for such an offense
  • Not be a fugitive from justice
  • Not be otherwise prohibited by state law or federal law from receiving, possessing, or transporting a firearm, as verified by passing a National Instant Criminal Background Check.

Machine Gun Laws

Possessing a machine gun is illegal under most circumstances in South Dakota.

Penalties for Illegal Firearm Possession

  • Possession of a controlled weapon (without an exception) is a Class 6 felony, punishable by up to two years in prison; a fine of up to $4,000; or both.
  • Possession of a firearm after having a prior conviction for a crime of violence or a felony drug offense within the last 15 years is a Class 6 felony, punishable by up to two years in prison; a fine of up to $4,000; or both.
  • Possession of a firearm after being convicted of a misdemeanor crime involving domestic violence within the last year is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail; a fine of up to $2,000; or both.

Penalties for Illegal Possession on or Near School Grounds

Illegal possession of a firearm on public elementary or secondary school property is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail; a fine of up to $2,000; or both.

Red Flag Law?


Universal Background Checks?


Stand Your Ground Law?

Yes. South Dakota permits the use of force, including deadly force, for self-defense under appropriate circumstances. There is no duty to retreat as long as you are not engaged in unlawful activity and you are in a place where you have a right to be.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts that include federal decisions, ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the status of the state law(s) you are reviewing.

Research the Law:

For More Information, Contact a South Dakota Lawyer

If you've been charged with a gun crime, you should speak with an experienced attorney licensed in South Dakota. An attorney can also help you with questions about your eligibility to own a gun and whether a specific gun complies with state and federal law.

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