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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.


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  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.[]