Idaho News

The Idaho gun owner’s guide: What you need to know

How many Idahoans own a gun?

No matter whose numbers you turn to, the answer is “a lot.” Surveys and studies usually put this state in the top 10 for gun ownership nationwide.

The American Academy of Pediatrics listed Idaho as No. 8, with 56.8 percent of the population owning a gun, in a 2005 report based off a 2002 survey. CBS News in 2016 estimated we were No. 6 for gun ownership per capita, though it relied on a limited dataset from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (handguns weren’t included, for example). Another survey published in 2015 in the peer-reviewed journal Injury Prevention ranked us at No. 3, with a gun ownership rate of 56.9 percent.

Further proof that Idaho is a gun-friendly state: There were at least 180 firearms and ammunition makers in Idaho as of 2012, when NPR’s StateImpact project mapped them.

Here’s a quick look at what you need to know about gun ownership in Idaho.

Q: Do I need a permit to buy a gun in Idaho?

No, not for any rifle, shotgun or handgun.

Q: What are the age restrictions for buying a gun?

No one under 18 can buy a gun without the written consent of a parent or guardian.

Q: Is there a waiting period?


Q: Can I buy an AR-15 or similar rifle?

Yes, such weapons are considered the same as other semi-automatic rifles in Idaho.

Q: What is the concealed carry law here?

Any resident over 21 is allowed to carry a concealed firearm statewide without a permit, including within city limits. Anyone 18 years and older is allowed to carry a concealed weapon outside of city limits. Carrying a gun openly is allowed within city limits.

You can still get a concealed carry permit from your local sheriff, allowing you to carry concealed in states that offer reciprocity. For many of those states, you will need Idaho’s “enhanced” permit, for which you must complete one of six sanctioned training courses and live fire of at least 98 rounds.

Q: Can I have a gun in my vehicle?

Outside of city limits, there is no restriction on loaded or unloaded guns as long as they are not concealed. In city limits they have to be unloaded when concealed, unless you have a concealed carry permit.

Q: Do I need to take classes?

No, but they are highly recommended. A hunter education course is required for anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1975, before you can buy a hunting license.

Q: Does Idaho recognize concealed weapons licenses from other states?

Yes — see Idaho’s reciprocity list here. Idaho also allows concealed carry outside of city limits for residents of other states who don’t have concealed carry permits. For nonresidents, only active military members can carry concealed firearms within city limits without permits. Nonresidents with permits must carry them at all times.

Q: Are there places where I cannot carry a concealed weapon?

Yes: Examples include a state courthouse, juvenile detention facility, prison, jail, or public or private school. A handful of schools do allow teachers to carry concealed weapons on campus. Guns also aren’t allowed in federal courthouses, nor airports unless you pack them properly in your baggage. (Find instructions for that here.)

Q: What about college campuses?

People with enhanced concealed carry permits can have their firearms on campus, except in dorms or venues with more than 1,000 people.

Q: Do I have to have a concealed weapon license if I am hunting?


Rocky Barker: 208-377-6484, @RockyBarker