BOISE – A legislator whose concealed weapon permit was revoked for lying about a long-ago rape case can still legally carry hidden guns – because Idaho is the only state in the nation that exempts elected officials from the permit law.
The case of state Rep. Mark Patterson, R-Boise, is bringing new attention to the 1990 Idaho law that provides the exemption, and some Idaho lawmakers say it’s time for a change.
Patterson is mulling an appeal of his permit revocation; the Idaho Statesman reported on Sunday that the Ada County sheriff revoked his permit after discovering that he lied twice, in 2007 and 2012, on his permit application. The form asks if the applicant has ever had a withheld judgment for a felony offense. Patterson didn’t disclose his 1974 guilty plea and withheld judgment for assault with intent to commit rape in Florida. He was acquitted in another, unrelated rape case three years later.
Idaho’s elected-official exemption applies to any elected official in the state, from school board members and highway district commissioners to the governor. A slew of others have been added since 1990, including jail guards and city and county officials.
Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, was one of those questioning the exemptions.
“I have a philosophy that those of us in public office should be under the same laws as the general public,” Henderson said.
Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, said: “I think the message it sends is that elected officials get perks. And when it comes to the Second Amendment, I think that’s particularly disturbing, because essentially, it’s saying we should have more ability to protect ourselves than the average citizen.”
But Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, vice chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, on which Patterson serves, said he’s not ready to do away with the elected-official exemption. “Certainly, public officials can be targets in their own rights, especially in today’s world,” he said. But, he said, “I think it’s something that we need to have a further look-see at.”
Patterson, in a written statement issued to two Boise TV stations late Sunday, accused Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney and Idaho Statesman reporter Dan Popkey of “a bare-knuckled campaign to intimidate me from serving the people of Idaho.”
The first-year lawmaker, who unsuccessfully pushed legislation this year to criminalize law enforcement officers who enforce new federal gun-restriction laws that might be enacted, says Raney is targeting him because of his legislation and because he scrutinized the Idaho Sheriffs’ Association’s spending and policies. “This whole thing is to silence me,” Patterson told the Statesman.
Raney dismissed the idea. “The questions that Mr. Patterson raises and the allegations he makes are irrelevant to the fact that he lied on his initial application and his renewal application,” the sheriff said. “That and only that is the reason for our actions.”
Getting a concealed weapon permit in Idaho requires a background check and a training course.
Henderson, 90, got his first gun at age 6, but he and his wife still voluntarily took a concealed-carry class – required for Idaho citizens seeking permits, but not for elected officials – the year before last.
“I still believe that the training is highly desirable, and I believe it should be required,” Henderson said.
House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, said, “I don’t like the fact that there’s a double standard. I think everybody ought to have the same ability and right that the Legislature does: Broaden the exemption.”
Moyle said, “What I’m saying is it ought to include everybody.”