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Federal law establishes a baseline national standard regarding individuals’ eligibility to acquire and possess firearms. Under federal law, people are generally prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms if they have been convicted of a felony or some domestic violence misdemeanors, or if they are subject to certain court orders related to domestic violence or a serious mental condition. However, federal law merely provides a floor, and has notable gaps that allow individuals who have demonstrated significant risk factors for violence or self-harm to legally acquire and possess guns.

South Dakota law provides that, subject to certain limited exceptions, no person shall possess a firearm if he or she:

  • Has been convicted of a “crime of violence” or one of a list of drug-related felonies in the past 15 years;1
  • Has been convicted of felony possession of a controlled substance or marijuana in South Dakota or of similar felony violations under the laws of another state in the past five years;2
  • Has been convicted of any misdemeanor crime involving an act of domestic violence within the past year;3 or
  • Is under the age of 18.4

For information on the background check process used to enforce these provisions, see the South Dakota Background Check Procedures section.

 See our Firearm Prohibitions policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue. 

  1. S.D. Codified Laws § 22-14-15. “Crime of violence” is defined in S.D. Codified Laws § 22-1-2(9).[]
  2. S.D. Codified Laws § 22-14-15.1.[]
  3. S.D. Codified Laws § 22-14-15.2.[]
  4. S.D. Codified Laws §§ 23-7-44 and 23-7-45. For exceptions to this prohibition, see the South Dakota Minimum Age to Purchase or Possess section.[]