Governor Kristi Noem (R-SD) was in her element at the 44th annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“For us, it's an opportunity to talk about our state—recruit businesses to our state—but also, you know, see what we can do to get some investment into some of the businesses that are already there,” remarked the first-time attendee.
Noem also addressed the inaugural Governors Forum that featured six Republican governors representing gun-friendly states.
She proudly stated, “We [South Dakota] are the No. 1 economy in the country right now, and we’re also the No. 1 state for selling hunting licenses.”
Following our September 2020 interview at the annual Buffalo Roundup, she’s nationally boosted South Dakota and lured-in disaffected refugees from blue states. Now, she’s diligently working to safeguard Second Amendment rights and uphold true conservation practices as well.
Here’s a follow-up conversation with Noem from SHOT Show 2022.
South Dakota Is For Freedom Lovers
After entering office in 2019, Noem immediately signed a constitutional carry (or permitless carry) bill into law. And she recently proposed waiving carry permit fees during her State of the State speech.
“South Dakota is already among the most business-friendly states in America. With this action, we will make it even easier to do business here,” Noem declared. “We also guarantee the right of our people to keep and bear arms. It will not cost you a penny to exercise your Second Amendment rights in South Dakota.”
One local publication observed:
"As of Dec. 31, South Dakota had 66,156 active conceal carry permits, according to the Secretary of State.
"If the state had paid for all the background checks for those permit holders it would have cost about $2.8 million at the current $43.25 charge."
The South Dakota governor elaborated that her constituents “love their Second Amendment rights” and “they love the outdoors.”
“We’re big conservationists, and our economy is growing so fast,” the sportswoman explained.
“People are reinvesting in our state,” she continued. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to be in a low-tax environment/low-regulated environment and outperform many other businesses in other areas of the country right now.”
Noem Supports True Conservation, Opposes 30-By-30
I then asked the avowed conservative to assess the Biden administration’s performance on conservation issues thus far.
“I think it’s just a completely different way to be conservationists,” she responded. “For them, they’re passing a more extreme agenda that is about control.”
The governor thinks states like hers can effectively challenge federal overreach stemming from Washington, D.C.
“At the state level, we’re able to incentivize people putting their land into diversity [and] wildlife habitat,” she noted. “We’re able to partner with landowners in very creative ways and allow them opportunities to really see the results for themselves.”
Noem equally worries the 30-by-30 plan to "conserve" 30 percent of public waters and lands by 2030 will undermine true conservation in the U.S. The Biden administration has deceptively branded it as “America the Beautiful” — yet questions remain over unclear definitions of “conserve” and the severe undercounting of areas already restricted to multiple-uses.
"Some of us govern western states with massive amounts of lands in the categories mentioned above or other federal designations that should be considered as “conserved.” We are deeply concerned about any effort to enlarge the federal estate or further restrict the use of public lands in our states.
"And even for those of us leading states without swaths of federal land, we oppose any increase in land use restrictions on lands under our state jurisdiction. Assuming there is some authority which would allow the program, obtaining the 30 percent goal from state or private lands would require your Administration to condemn or otherwise severely limit the current productive uses of such lands, infringing on the private property rights of our citizens and significantly harming our economies."
“Some of the worst maintained land in the country is federal land,” admitted the lifelong conservationist. “The 30-30 rule is trying to take more control of land and put it under the federal government's authority and power. So I'm not in favor of that.”
“Our landowners, many times, are the greatest stewards of the land because they're the ones who are going to pass it on to their kids and their grandkids.”
Governor Kristi Noem is optimistic about 2022 and intends to fight for ideas she believes in.
“I really believe in this country, our freedoms and our liberties and the Constitution,” she conveyed to me. “I do my job and nothing more than that.”