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Eye On Boise

House suspends rules, passes concealed-carry bill

The House has suspended its rules and taken up SB 1389, the bill to allow Idaho residents age 21 or older to carry concealed guns without a permit inside city limits. After debate on both sides, the bill passed, 54-15. It’s already passed the Senate, so the measure now goes to the governor’s desk.

The measure “does provide an additional element of freedom, if you will, with regard to being able to carry a concealed weapon without a license,” said Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, the bill’s House sponsor. He said he believes the bill affirms Idaho’s support for gun rights under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Rep. John Rusche, D-Lewiston, said he’s heard from lots of people in his district on both sides of the issue, and he’d wanted to go home this weekend and talk to folks about it before voting – but didn’t get that chance, because of today’s rules suspension and fast-track consideration. “This is really a difficult situation,” Rusche said. “Again, I wonder why we’re spending as much time on this as we do, when the issues that people repeatedly tell us that consume Idahoans are education, paying for college, household economics and health care. I’m sure the bill was brought with all the best intentions in the world, but I just wonder what we’re doing here.”

Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise, said he voted in favor of last year’s legislation that clarified that no permits are required for carrying a concealed gun outside city limits; previous law said that was OK when engaged in a lawful outdoor activity outside a city. Gannon said he supported that measure because Idaho’s rural areas are different, but said he’s opposed to this bill, because, “Our cities don’t want it.”

Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, said, “What a historic day in Idaho’s history will go down today. I’m very proud and honored to be here today, to be able to vote on this great piece of legislation, and I hope you all give it a green light.”

Rep. Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, said the bill will allow people to put a gun in their glovebox in the car when passing through a city, to keep it away from a child in the car, rather than have to leave it openly on the dash.

Rep. Mark Nye, D-Pocatello, read from the Idaho Constitution, Article I, Section 11, which says, “The people have the right to keep and bear arms, which right shall not be abridged; but this provision shall not prevent the passage of laws to govern the carrying of weapons concealed on the person.”

Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, said, “1389 by its very passage is going to create a situation where you will not have to use it in defense, because everybody’s going to know that you have the right to carry it concealed. And that’s vital.”

Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, said, “This bill’s been a long time coming. … This is a great improvement. I have a neighbor who was able to save her life because she did have a gun with her. A life is priceless, and the Second Amendment is priceless.”

Loertscher, in his closing debate, said, "Even with this change, there are places where you're not going to be able to carry a concealed weapon without a permit," including school zones and courthouses. People need to educate themselves about that, he said. "They do have to have a sense of responsibility."

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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