Following spirited debate on the decision-making skills of young adults and their ability to follow the law, the House voted along party lines Thursday to lower the legal age to 18 to carry a concealed handgun without a permit in Idaho cities.
In 2016, Idaho passed a constitutional carry bill that allows someone 18 or older to, without a permit, conceal-carry firearms anywhere in the state. That came with an exception: 18- to 20-year-olds could not carry a concealed handgun within city limits.
“Currently young adults in our state between the ages of 18 and 21 can carry a handgun open anywhere in the state,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Christy Zito, R-Hammett, during the floor debate on Thursday. “They can carry a handgun concealed anywhere in our state except in the city limits, which is less than one percent of the real estate in the state of Idaho.”
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Zito also noted that they can carry a shotgun concealed in the city limits, and they can carry a long gun concealed in the city limits.
“So what (this bill) basically is saying is that if you are between the ages of 18 and 21 and you are carrying your handgun open in the city limits and you decide to put your coat on, you will not become a criminal,” she said.
Republicans supporting the bill focused on the Second Amendment.
“The Second Amendment does not allow for sideboards,” Rep. Chad Christensen, R-Ammon, said.
Rep. Julianne Young, R-Blackfoot, explained: “This is a mashed potatoes bill. What I mean by that is it is very basic, it is a simple staple, and it is the Idaho way. ... The bill is simple because the whole point of it is to simplify a confusing statute ... It is the Idaho way because the Idahoan brand is one of a strong independent people who are not afraid to take personal responsibility for their own lives.”
Democrats who spoke against the bill stated age and lack of training as their concerns.
“When young people get mad, they are more prone to make irrational decisions. That is a fact,” said House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-Boise.
Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise, outlined other areas in which young adults are required to undergo training.
“Two sessions ago, this body passed a statute that said to graduate from high school you had to take a test dealing with government issues. We require our high school kids to take government their senior year and then, when they are 18, they vote,” he said.
“We require driver training. We require a driver’s test. You just don’t go out and drive a car. ... You have to go through an extensive process before you can go drive a car. And in the military ... they didn’t just hand us a gun to go shoot (upon enlisting). We had training, we had orders, we had rules ... on what we could do with our weapon.”
Gannon said he thinks those same principles apply here.
“Just a minimal amount of training, a minimal amount of experience, I think is appropriate for city kids,” Gannon.