A Senate committee endorsed dropping the state’s century-old permit requirement for carrying a concealed weapon in Idaho’s cities, with law enforcement agencies as divided as others on the bill.
The State Affairs committee voted 6-3 on Tuesday to recommend passage by the full Senate after nearly two hours of testimony from about two dozen people. The committee voted with no discussion following the testimony.
Permitless concealed carry is allowed in Idaho outside of cities. The bill would remove the permitting requirement within cities for Idaho residents 21 or older who are not otherwise prohibited from owning a gun under state law — for example, due to a felony conviction or mental illness.
“We’ve had this disconnect between cities and counties,” bill sponsor Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, told the committee in opening testimony. “In Idaho we have cities that have been as small as five or six people all the way up to major metropolitan areas.”
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Some opponents of the bill identified themselves as strong advocates of Second Amendment rights who nonetheless supported the need for licensing.
“This bill doesn’t make any sense to me,” said Matt Vraspir of Star, who said he was a fourth-generation Idahoan from a conservative gun-owning family. He argued for keeping existing law “to have some mechanism to know if a person is concealing a gun and has passed a background check.”
True Pearce, a lawyer, gun instructor and competitive shooter, said he supported the legislation’s intent but said it did not account for federal gun safety laws such as gun-free school zones.
“There’s nothing in (the law) to make people aware that if they do choose to carry inside city limits, which I am for, that they may not carry within 1,000 feet of a school,” Pearce said. “Having a permit exempts you from the federal law.”
The Idaho Sheriffs Association and Fraternal Order of Police back the legislation, according to testimony Tuesday. Boise Police Chief Bill Bones spoke against it, noting inconsistencies that would make it hard for police to enforce, or determine, in a patrol situation, whether someone carrying a concealed weapon was doing so legally.
“Our crimes in the city — I’ve never had an offense committed by somebody who’s doing an open carry,” Bones said. “It’s somebody that’s carrying a concealed weapon.”
Other supporters included the National Rifle Association, the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance and the Idaho Freedom Foundation. ISAA president Greg Pruett presented the committee with a supporting petition that he said had 11,000 signatures. All the bill does, Pruett said, is “allow people to put their coat on” over a weapon.
Hannah Sharp, of the Idaho chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, cited recent polling by Everytown for Gun Safety that reported 81 percent of Idahoans support concealed-carry permitting.
How they voted
For: Sen. McKenzie, Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston; Brent Hill, R-Rexburg; Chuck Winder, R-Boise; Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton; and Todd Lakey, R-Nampa.
Against: Sens. Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls; Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise.