Guest Opinions

Idaho permitless concealed carry bill endangers police, public

From left: Boise Chief Bill Bones, Meridian Chief Jeff Lavey, Garden City Chief Rick Allen.
From left: Boise Chief Bill Bones, Meridian Chief Jeff Lavey, Garden City Chief Rick Allen.

For nearly a century Idaho has maintained a strong concealed carry permitting system, requiring that anyone carrying a concealed weapon inside city limits possess a valid concealed weapons license. This system was designed to protect the safety of all Idahoans, including the law enforcement officers who serve and protect our communities.

As chiefs of police serving within Ada County, we not only believe in the Second Amendment but we support every element of the U.S. Constitution. We lead law enforcement agencies sworn to protect our communities and citizens, filled with officers who risk their lives to ensure the safety of our citizens.

On Monday the Legislature will be hearing Senate Bill 1389. If passed, SB 1389 would remove Idaho’s required permitting system and make it lawful for people to carry concealed loaded handguns in public without a license or background check within the city limits of all Idaho cities.

Without the requirement to possess a concealed weapons license, law enforcement will lack a lawful means of preventing individuals prohibited from lawfully possessing firearms (i.e. convicted felons, prohibited possessors or psychologically impaired). Additionally, SB 1389 does not require individuals carrying a concealed weapon to notify law enforcement of the concealed weapon during a police contact. As a result of these safety concerns we oppose this legislation as currently written.

We believe dismantling the long-standing and effective permitting system without taking additional precautionary steps will weaken public safety in two fundamental ways:

First, under our existing law, sheriffs may require an applicant demonstrate familiarity with a firearm before issuing a concealed carry permit. SB 1389 would strip law enforcement’s ability to ensure persons carrying guns in our communities know how to handle firearms safely.

Second, a criminal records check on all permit applicants ensures they are not prohibited from possessing or carrying guns. SB 1389 will allow those who have never passed a check to carry concealed weapons.

Additionally SB 1389 will put law enforcement at risk. When officers lawfully stop a person suspected of committing a crime and discover he is armed, Idaho’s current system allows us to check for a valid permit to carry the gun. Our concealed weapons licensing system is the only way to determine the person is not a felon or dangerous person prohibited from possessing firearms.

As law enforcement professionals who carry firearms every day we know firsthand the responsibility associated with handling and owning firearms. We must ensure changes to Idaho’s laws are well-vetted and safeguard the safety of all citizens. The passing of this bill will not make our streets nor our citizens safer. We oppose SB 1389 as drafted and urge the Idaho Legislature to work with all law enforcement to improve the proposed legislation and enhance and protect the safety of all citizens in Idaho.

Bill Bones is Boise chief of police. Jeff Lavey is Meridian chief of police. Rick Allen is Garden City chief of police.