State Politics

Idaho’s senators await details on gun legislation

Sen. Mike Crapo visits with people attending a gun show at Expo Idaho in January.
Sen. Mike Crapo visits with people attending a gun show at Expo Idaho in January. Idaho Statesman file

Idaho’s U.S. senators Thursday were awaiting final details on what gun-control measures will come before the body for a vote next week following a successful Democratic filibuster that forced the issue.

Democrats reached agreement with the Senate Republican leadership to hold votes on the gun measures, but it was not clear Thursday which of several various and competing bills would be taken up. One initiative would deal with expanding background checks for gun purchasers and another would seek to bar suspected terrorists from purchasing firearms. There are dueling Republican and Democrat versions of both.

“There isn’t anyone who wants bad people to have guns, including all people on the No-Fly list,” said Idaho Republican Sen. Jim Risch. “As with most issues the devil is in the details, particularly where limits on constitutional rights are concerned. Having said that, there are reasonable negotiations going on right now amongst senators. I expect votes on some proposals next week, but the details of those are not known yet.”

Both measures would come up as amendments to a larger appropriations bill. Republican Sen. Mike Crapo’s spokesman, Lindsay Nothern, said the office was seeking “details on exactly what these amendments mean.” Crapo later pledged in a late Thursday news release to “reject any and all attempts to weaken our Second Amendment rights in response to the tragedy in Orlando.”

The background check effort would seek to close the so-called “gun show loophole” that exempts private sellers from conducting mandatory background checks on buyers. The measure has failed to pass Congress before and would not survive in the House even if were to pass the Senate.

The organizer of a popular gun show coming this weekend to the Idaho Center in Nampa said Thursday there was “no value in doing any more background checks.”

“This isn’t the first time this has come up. This is just another way to harass honest people,” said Paul Snider, of Lewis Clark Trader in Lewiston, which organizes various trade shows, said he has done 850 gun shows over 35 years.

Guns used in terrorist attacks are “a serious thing, but that’s got nothing to do with the gun shows,” he said. “The guns that have been used in these terrorist acts are already registered and went through background checks, so I don't know how we can improve on it.”

Snider said he expects about 2,000 people to attend the Nampa show, which will have about 175 sellers. Most of them are full-time dealers who must conduct background checks.

“A majority of the guns sold at our gun shows are registered,” Snider said. “To this date, there has never ben a gun sold at my gun show that was used in the commission of a crime.”

Bill Dentzer: 208-377-6438, @IDSBillD