Boise City Councilman TJ Thomson, a gun enthusiast and advocate for Second Amendment rights, requested the change.
He said he was worried that the law, as written, could be interpreted as making it a crime for people to carry guns — concealed or open — in parks or use them to defend themselves.
“We can’t regulate carry (of guns) at all at the city level,” he said.
State law prohibits cities and counties from banning firearms on public property, except in courtrooms, jails and schools that aren’t public colleges.
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If the newly worded law passes, firing guns would still be illegal inside city limits, except in cases such as at a legally compliant shooting range or gallery, by police officers acting in their official duties or “in the lawful defense of a person or persons or property.”
“It’s simply words on a page,” city spokesman Mike Journee said. “It doesn’t change anything at all on the ground.”
Boise is not the first Treasure Valley city to go through this kind of process. Last year, the city of Nampa added a self-defense exception to its law prohibiting the discharge of firearms inside city limits. That law also allows people to fire guns in the city if they have permission from the police chief, city spokeswoman Vickie Holbrook said in an email.
Boise Parks and Recreation has reworded signs in the Foothills to reflect the expected change in Boise’s law. Signs that used to read “firearms and paintball guns prohibited” now read “paintball guns prohibited.”
The proposed changes to the law also try to clean up unclear and unnecessary language, continuing a longtime effort by the city.
The council heard the first reading of the proposed changes Tuesday. The changes probably will be heard at two more meetings before the council votes on whether to approve them.