With permitless carry, Idahoans still seek out training, permits for concealed guns

Carrying a Ruger 9mm sidearm, Dan Malloy of Boise attends a meeting of an Idaho open carry organization in February 2013 in Meridian. At the time, Malloy said he carried a weapon openly or concealed most of the time.
Carrying a Ruger 9mm sidearm, Dan Malloy of Boise attends a meeting of an Idaho open carry organization in February 2013 in Meridian. At the time, Malloy said he carried a weapon openly or concealed most of the time. Idaho Statesman file

Since July, Idaho adults 21 and older have been able to carry concealed weapons in most public places without the need for a county-issued permit.

Even so, applications by Idaho residents for concealed weapons permits have remained fairly steady. The big difference is that a larger number of the applications are for enhanced permits that allow users to carry concealed weapons in other states.

And those enhanced permits require training, so demand has remained high for classes that teach principles of safe gun handling. This year, 513 people have taken classes offered nearly monthly by the Ada County Sheriff’s Office.

Private firearms instructor Joe Torok owns Boise-based Idaho Firearms

“People are still coming in great numbers,” he said. “The net effect is that a lot of people like the idea that they can carry a concealed weapon without a license, but they’re also looking for the training that it involves.”

At the beginning of December, 131,665 Idaho adults possessed a concealed weapons permit, 8 percent of the state’s population, according to the Idaho State Police. Of those, 27,243, or 21 percent, were enhanced permits.

The total figure is up 54 percent from the beginning of 2013, when 85,535 adults had such a permit, according to statistics from the ISP and the Pennsylvania-based Crime Prevention Research Center.

33% Share of Idaho concealed weapons permits issued to women

The new Idaho concealed carry law does away with the need for a basic permit for most people. However, young adults 18 to 20 must still have a permit in order to carry a concealed weapon.

And residents of states outside Idaho cannot carry a concealed weapon within any incorporated city without a permit recognized by Idaho, whether it’s from this state or another one Idaho has an agreement with.

Concealed weapons are still prohibited inside schools, courthouses and jails, although school boards can authorize employees to carry a weapon in school. Holders of the enhanced Idaho permit can carry concealed weapons on Idaho’s public college campuses.

Private businesses may also prohibit carrying weapons on their properties.

To obtain the enhanced Idaho permit, residents must complete at least eight hours of training that includes instruction on state firearms laws, use of deadly force, safe handling and use of firearms. It also covers self-defense principles. The training must feature live-fire instruction, with a minimum of 98 rounds fired.

Since July, 70 percent of the 859 concealed weapons permits issued by the Ada County Sheriff’s Office have been enhanced permits, spokesman Patrick Orr said earlier this month. Other selected counties have seen similar results.

Last year, Canyon County issued 1,680 concealed weapons permits, with more than half — 930 — enhanced permits. By the end of this October, the county was on track for a slight increase in overall permits but had already issued 204 more enhanced permits than for all of 2015.

Bannock County has seen nearly a 50 percent drop in applications for a basic permit, but its number of enhanced permits so far are at about the same level — 445 last year to 435 at the beginning of December 2016.

Through November, Kootenai County had issued 2,471 concealed weapons permits, 153 more than all of last year. Those included 1,253 enhanced permits, compared to 930 in 2015, said Joyce Cox, a records manager for the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office.

Nez Perce County issued 711 concealed weapons permits last year and is on track to issue about the same number this year, said Lt. Paul McNish. Its statistics don’t differentiate between the number of basic and enhanced permits.

“When they announced Idaho was going to open carry, we figured we’d see a leveling off or a drop. But actually, we’ve stayed pretty much the same.” McNish said.

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @IDS_Sowell