February 23, 2009 in Idaho

Park guns bill OK’d despite Harwood opposition

By The Spokesman-Review
Betsy Russell photo

Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, cast the only vote against HB 137, a measure to allow the state Parks Board to regulate discharge, but not possession, of firearms in state parks. Sponsors said last year’s strict pre-emption bill, which sharply limited regulation of firearms in Idaho by anyone other than the Legislature, kept the parks board from banning shooting at campsites and the like to protect public safety. The bill passed the House 66-1 and headed to the Senate.
(Full-size photo)

BOISE - Restrictive legislation that Idaho lawmakers passed last year is keeping the state Parks Board from banning campers from shooting at each other in state parks, so now legislation is moving through to let the board restrict that.

The bill, HB 137, passed the House today on a 66-1 vote, with just one representative, Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, voting no.

“The parks, the way they do it now they call the sheriff - this don’t change that,” Harwood said after the vote. “This is just making a bill, as far as I’m concerned. They still have to call the sheriff.”

House Majority Leader Mike Moyle is the bill’s sponsor. He said the state parks board needs to be able to regulate discharge - though not possession - of firearms in state parks to protect public safety, despite the “pre-emption” law lawmakers enacted last year sharply limiting any regulation of firearms by anyone other than the state Legislature. The bill, on which Moyle said he worked with the National Rifle Association, includes exceptions for self-defense and for “lawful hunting.”

“We don’t want people shooting when they’re camping next to each other and getting hurt,” Moyle told the House. Sponsors of last year’s pre-emption bill “support this change, and I hope you can too,” Moyle told his fellow representatives.

Harwood said he checked with his local sheriff, and someone shooting in a state campground could be arrested and charged with a crime like reckless endangerment. “This is just one bill that I didn’t feel they needed to have,” he said.

Now that it’s passed the House, the bill moves to the Senate.

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