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Eye On Boise

House panels hold hearings on gun bill, Bible-in-schools bill

NRA lobbyist Dakota Moore testifies to the House State Affairs Committee on Thursday (Betsy Z. Russell)
NRA lobbyist Dakota Moore testifies to the House State Affairs Committee on Thursday (Betsy Z. Russell)

The House State Affairs Committee has been hearing testimony on SB 1398, the permitless concealed-carry gun bill, for nearly an hour now; it had been scheduled to take up Rep. Eric Redman’s anti-Sharia bill first, but Redman wasn’t in the room when the hearing began, so chairman Tom Loertscher moved on to the gun bill.

Meanwhile, the House Education Committee has launched its continued hearing this morning on the Bible-in-schools bill, preparing to vote on the bill. Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, an attorney, said, “This will be legally challenged and it will be thrown out, and we will pay the legal fees for the people that challenge it.”

Rep. Ryan Kerby, R-New Plymouth, said, “If we’re not careful in this arena, we continue to erode the support for public schools by the general public. There are a lot of people who think that this is important.”

At the gun hearing, Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, told the House committee, “What this does, it clarifies that in order to concealed-carry outside of city limits without a permit, it has to be a law-abiding citizen.” Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, told McKenzie: “I’m seeing 3 differences. No. 1, you don’t pay the fee. No. 2, you don’t necessarily need the education. And then, No. 3 is the background check. Is that basically the essence of it?” “I think those would be the change,” McKenzie responded. Those are the requirements now to get a concealed-weapons permit. Under the bill, those permits no longer would be required for any law-abiding resident age 21 or older to carry a concealed gun, either inside or outside city limits.

Hannah Sharp of the Idaho chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America told the committee, “The bottom line for this bill is it would dismantle Idaho’s popular century-old permitting system. It would make it easy for criminals and people who have never had firearms safety training to carry concealed guns on the streets of our cities and our towns.” Sharp said her group sponsored a poll that found 81 percent of Idahoans back keeping the current permitting system. She provided the committee with a link to the poll and the questions asked.

Dakota Moore, a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association from Washington, D.C., said for all the talk about Idaho’s 100-year-old permitting system, it wasn’t until the 1990s that Idaho changed its permit system from a “may issue” system to a “shall issue” system for county sheriffs. He said that’s not led to any increase in crime. Idaho’s permitting system first was enacted in 1909, McKenzie told the committee.

“It does not eliminate Idaho’s current licensing system,” Moore said. “That is retained in this legislation.” It would just become optional; people could still get concealed-carry permits, which some want so they’ll be recognized in other states that have reciprocity with Idaho’s laws.  

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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