BOISE – Idaho lawmakers will keep their concealed-gun privileges, after senators on Monday killed legislation that would have repealed the special exemption.
In Idaho, elected officials may carry concealed weapons without a permit.
Among the leading advocates of killing the House-passed bill was Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, who is running for governor.
Fulcher decried House Bill 514 as “political correctness,” and said, “This was put in statute for a reason. I believe it was for a good reason.”
“We do not need to relinquish our privileges,” he said.
The House passed the bill after the special exemption made news last year. Former Rep. Mark Patterson, R-Boise, had his concealed weapon permit revoked by the county sheriff for not revealing an attempted rape conviction from the 1970s. However, as long as he remained a legislator, Patterson was able to continue carrying a concealed gun without a permit.
The House vote on Feb. 27 was 62-7 in favor of the bill; among the seven opponents were two North Idaho lawmakers, Reps. Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton, and Kathy Sims, R-Coeur d’Alene.
Fulcher and several other members of the Senate State Affairs Committee, which killed the bill, said lawmakers often are threatened and face special circumstances that justify the exemption. “I personally on this committee have walked out of this room and been threatened,” he said. “I have had my life threatened multiple times.”
Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, the bill’s Senate sponsor, said in those situations, lawmakers can get concealed weapon permits just like their constituents. “We should fall under the same standards as the citizens we are writing these statutes for,” he said.
Idahoans must get at least some gun safety training to obtain a concealed weapons permit; elected officials are now exempt from that requirement.
“This has nothing to do with political correctness, in my opinion,” Hagedorn said. “It has everything to do with preparation. If you know that you are going into a contentious job as an elected official, it is your responsibility to be prepared to go into that job. And training is appropriate.”
In addition to removing the elected-official exemption, the bill broadened Idaho’s concealed-carry law to clarify that anyone could carry a concealed weapon without a permit outside city limits; that’s now allowed only while hunting, fishing or pursuing other outdoor activities. Hagedorn noted that the National Rifle Association and the Idaho Sheriffs’ Association supported the bill.
Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, said he never had gun-safety training as a youngster. “I’m Exhibit A as to why maybe we should encourage people like me to at least go through some additional training and teaching,” he said.
But Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, said, “We are giving up our freedoms, we are giving up our liberties. We have the ability now to carry, and I think that most of the citizens realize that we are in a different situation than the average guy on the street.”