I’m a strong advocate of the Second Amendment and feel that the right to bear arms is part of being American. At first reading, SB 1389, the “permitless-carry bill, sounds like a great safeguard to our Second Amendment rights. However, I can’t help but think the bill — which has passed and has been signed into law by Gov. Butch Otter — is actually setting up Idahoans for failure; and the penalty for such failure is disastrous.
Does permitless carry really mean you can legally carry concealed without a permit? Federal law says no. Is permitless carry worth going to prison, paying up to $5,000 in fines, losing your gun rights for life, and mortgaging your home to hire an attorney, just to avoid paying the one-time fee of $62.45 for a concealed weapons permit? I believe not. Permitless-carry at your own risk.
Under Idaho law, it’s currently legal to carry a loaded gun, concealed, outside city limits, without a permit, as long as you could legally possess a gun. Permitless-carry legislation removes Idaho’s “outside city limits” requirement and makes it legal to carry “inside the city” if you’re an Idaho resident 21 years or older.
Regardless of the new legislation, you still can’t really carry “in the city” without a permit, and our lawmakers are doing Idahoans a huge legal disservice by making us think we can. One example, the Federal Gun Free School Zone Act prohibits firearms of any kind within 1,000 feet of a school ground, and not the center of the school, but the edge of the property. “School” is defined as K-12 and includes public schools, private schools, parochial schools, and likely home schools.
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So, if you’re “permitless carrying” and walk on a public sidewalk, drive on a public road, or live in public housing that is within 1,000 feet of K-12 school property, you’d be in violation of the Federal law and could spend up to 5 years in prison. You’d also likely lose your gun rights for life as you could become a federally prohibited person.
Map surveys of almost any city in Idaho will show that it’s all but impossible to be in a city and not pass within 1,000 feet of a K-12 grade school. The 9th Federal Circuit, which has federal jurisdiction over Idaho, has upheld the school zone act as Constitutional.
How does having a permit help? Individuals with either the Idaho Regular permit or the Idaho Enhanced permit are exempt from the school zone act, meaning the federal law doesn’t apply, and you can be within the school zone legally. Under Idaho law, you can even drop off students or faculty and park with your gun secured in your vehicle on school property. With school board approval, you could carry inside the school without violating the act or Idaho law. Law enforcement officers are only exempt from the school zone act if they are acting in their official capacity, i.e. they’re on duty. They need a concealed carry permit to be exempt when they’re off duty.
Permitless carry also doesn’t allow you to carry on public university campuses. You need an Idaho Enhanced permit to do that. There’s a number of other places you can’t carry in the city even with permitless carry, such as the post office. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can permitless-carry everywhere when you can’t.
True Pearce is an Idaho attorney, professional competitive shooter and gun rights advocate.