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Eye On Boise

Idaho’s new permitless concealed-carry gun law takes effect Friday

In this Feb. 27, 2013, file photo Hank Johnson displays his handgun. (Al Behrman / AP)
In this Feb. 27, 2013, file photo Hank Johnson displays his handgun. (Al Behrman / AP)

Here’s my full story from spokesman.com:

By Betsy Z. Russell

BOISE – Starting Friday, Idaho will become the eighth state in the nation to allow most residents age 21 or older to carry concealed guns without a permit – even inside cities, in bars and in government buildings.

The new law is the latest result of decades of efforts to liberalize gun laws in Idaho, a gun-loving state that already had some of the most permissive gun laws in the nation. The state Constitution bans gun licensing or registration and open carrying of firearms is allowed even in the state Capitol.

“Out here in the West, most people have grown up with guns – they see no issue,” said Vaughn Killeen, executive director of the Idaho Sheriffs Association and the former longtime sheriff of the state’s most populous county. This year, the Sheriffs Association, which long had concerns about permitless concealed carry, backed the new law.

Killeen can remember when, as Ada County sheriff a quarter-century ago, he had issued only 15 concealed weapons licenses. Today, that number tops 30,000 in Ada County, and more than 130,000 statewide. State laws that once required people to justify to their local sheriff why they needed to carry a concealed gun changed in 1990 to require that sheriffs “shall issue” permits to anyone who qualifies. Further changes broadened exemptions for anyone engaged in hunting or other outdoor pursuits, culminating in a law passed last year that removed the requirement for concealed-weapons permits for anyone 18 or older who is outside any city limits.

Then came this year’s law, which applies inside city limits, except at schools, jails and courthouses. It includes some new restrictions, applying only to Idaho residents and only those 21 or older. The new rules accompany huge and growing interest in Idaho in carrying concealed guns. Just two years ago, the state had 105,521 concealed-weapon permits; that number’s grown by more than 25,000 in two years.

The new law doesn’t apply to people with criminal records, drug users, fugitives, those who are mentally incapacitated, subject to domestic violence protection orders or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. But unlike the current concealed-weapons license law, which requires background checks to verify eligibility, it’s essentially self-policing – people are supposed to know if they aren’t allowed to carry.

“It reverses everything from how it’s handled today,” Killeen said.

Also, unlike current concealed-weapon permit laws, Idahoans won’t have to prove they have training or can handle firearms in order to carry a concealed gun.

Scot Haug, Post Falls police chief and president of the Idaho Chiefs of Police Association, said his group took a neutral stand on this year’s bill.

“I’m pro-gun – I think you should be able to carry them,” Haug said. But, he said, “I’m concerned that we don’t have people with a good education about how to properly carry a weapon, how to protect it, when to use it and when not to use it.”

So his department is sponsoring classes this summer and fall. The first class was just announced last week; already, more than 40 people have signed up and it’s almost full.

He noted the January 2015 incident in which a 2-year-old found his mother’s concealed gun in a special concealed-carry purse while shopping at Wal-Mart in Hayden, and the child shot the mother to death. She had a concealed-weapons license.

“We’ve had a couple of incidents,” Haug said. “We want to prevent those tragedies.”

Lt. Stu Miller, spokesman for the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office, said interest in concealed weapons permits has been so strong in the county for the past few years that “every day we have people lined up outside the door – it’s always busy.”

That interest hasn’t waned with the approach of the new permitless carry law, he said. Idahoans still will be able to get permits; their advantages include being recognized in some other states that don’t have permitless carry laws.

“We’re so close to Washington and Montana, so in order for them to go either direction, they have to have a permit,” Miller said.

The ‘who’ and ‘where’ of Idaho’s new gun law

Idaho’s new permitless concealed carry law includes various restrictions on to whom and where it applies.

THE WHO: Here’s how Idaho’s new gun law affects you if you are:

A WASHINGTON RESIDENT: Does not apply. Idaho’s law allows a Washington resident who has a Washington state concealed-carry permit to carry a concealed gun within an Idaho city, provided they have the Washington permit on them. Outside of city limits in Idaho, Washington residents age 18 or older who aren’t “disqualified persons” (see below) may carry concealed weapons without a permit, just as Idaho residents may.

AN IDAHO RESIDENT AGE 21 OR OLDER: If you meet the requirements for an Idaho concealed weapons permit you can carry a concealed handgun within city limits in Idaho without a permit. People who are disqualified include those with a criminal record or protection order, drug users, and those who were dishonorably discharged from the military. You may not carry a concealed weapon while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You also may carry a concealed weapon without a permit outside city limits.

AN IDAHO RESIDENT AGE 18-20: You must obtain a concealed weapons permit to carry a concealed handgun inside city limits, and you must meet the stricter enhanced-carry permit standards to do so, which include live-rounds training. However, a sheriff has no discretion, as they did under previous law, over whether to issue you a permit; if you meet the standards, including passing a background check, they must issue you a permit. Outside city limits, you may carry a concealed weapon without a permit, as long as you aren’t disqualified because of a criminal record, protection order or other rules.

A CANADIAN RESIDENT: Does not apply. You may not possess a firearm in Idaho, except while engaged in lawful hunting or sporting activities with a state license, or under other exceptions specifically authorized under federal law. You may not apply for or be issued an Idaho concealed weapons permit.

A MINOR UNDER AGE 18: Does not apply. You may not carry a concealed weapon.

A ‘PROHIBITED PERSON’: Here is the full list of “prohibited persons” who are not eligible, either for an Idaho concealed weapons permit, or for permitless carry of a concealed gun either inside or outside city limits: Those charged or convicted of a felony; a fugitive from justice; a drug user; someone who is mentally ill or lacking in capacity to care for themselves; those dishonorably discharged from the military; people in the country illegally; those subject to domestic violence protection orders; or those otherwise ineligible under federal law to own or possess a firearm. Idaho law also prohibits carrying a firearm while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

THE WHERE:

CITIES VS. RURAL AREAS: The new law applies within city limits. Previously, under legislation passed in 2015, Idaho allowed concealed carry of guns without a permit outside city limits. The 2015 law expanded previous exemptions for carrying weapons while hunting or engaged in other lawful outdoor activities.

WHERE CONCEALED CARRY IS NOT ALLOWED: Under Idaho law, even with a concealed-carry permit, people may not carry concealed weapons at public or private K-12 schools, jails, juvenile detention facilities or courthouses. On private property open to the public, property owners may forbid guns; if they do not do so, then concealed carry is allowed, subject to the restrictions above. Idaho law allows concealed carry on public college and university campuses only with an enhanced concealed weapons permit, which requires more training than a regular permit. Federal law also bans carrying guns without a permit in certain areas, including within 1,000 feet of a school. However, Idaho state and local law enforcement officers do not generally enforce federal laws.

WHERE CONCEALED CARRY IS ALLOWED: Everywhere else, including bars (unless the owners have forbidden it) and city or state government offices.

OPEN CARRY: Idaho permits the open carrying of firearms without a permit. That was among the leading arguments for the new law; supporters said the state’s existing laws essentially made it illegal for someone entering city limits while carrying a gun to be wearing a coat, because that would conceal their gun.

OTHER STATES: In addition to Idaho, the states that don’t require concealed weapon permits are Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Maine, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming. 




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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