Guest Opinions

Guest opinion: New concealed carry law is misguided and should be rejected

This opinion expresses the concerns of Dolores Aragon, the chapter lead for Moms Demand Action, and myself, a retired Episcopal priest and hospital chaplain, regarding HB 301.

As parents and grandparents, our priority is the safety of all families living in Idaho, no matter where they live in the state. Unfortunately, a dangerous bill has passed that has been sent on to the governor. This bill regarding concealed carry permits would set dramatically different rules for different areas of the state. Under existing law in Idaho — just as in nearly every other state — a person cannot carry a concealed, loaded gun in public without a concealed weapon permit.

HB 301 proposes to eliminate that requirement in virtually all of Idaho. The bill seeks to strike down the permit requirements outside city limits, but U. S Census data demonstrates that more than 90 percent of the area of Idaho is outside city limits, meaning HB 301 would eliminate the permitting requirement in virtually the entire state

This misguided bill would undermine the common-sense rule that persons who carry concealed weapons should have a clean criminal record, be in good mental health and undergo basic firearms training. Specifically it would eliminate the requirement that permit holders undergo a background check in order to obtain a concealed carry permit.

HB 301 maintains the exemption that lets elected officials carry concealed weapons without any permit or training. Why should legislators and other elected officials be exempt from basic safety and training rules? If we are making changes to Idaho's concealed carry law, it should be to eliminate this loophole and make elected officials play by the same rules as everyone else. As this bill moves to the governor, he should pause to think: Do Idahoans really want to allow persons with absolutely no safety training to carry concealed, loaded handguns in public throughout 90 percent of our state? Do Idahoans really want our elected officials to be above the law? We don't believe they do.

Idaho law already protects the rights of hunters, sportsmen and sportswomen to carry concealed weapons outside city limits for lawful hunting, fishing, trapping, target competitions and other outdoor activities without a permit. HB 301 endangers these folks by allowing people with no safety training to conceal a handgun where people are vacationing and enjoying the great outdoors.

Most Idahoans and Americans agree that requiring a clean criminal record, sound mental heath and basic safety training for those who wish to carry a concealed gun in public is just common sense. HB 301 would eliminate these requirements. We urge the rejection of this troubling bill.