A bill that would allow concealed carry without a permit inside city limits cleared an Idaho senate committee Monday.
SB 1389 would allow concealed guns without a permit to those aged 21 and older, who are residents of the state, and who are not prohibited from possessing a firearm under state or federal law.
The committee cleared the pro-gun bill after hearing from those on opposed and those who supported the legislation.
The Idaho Sheriffs Association, which represents 44 county elected sheriffs, favored the bill.
"The association voted to support SB 1389 last week," said Vaughn Killeen, executive director of the Idaho Sheriffs’ Association, in an email. "Our rules require a two-thirds vote to take a position on legislation."
State senator Curt McKenzie, the lead sponsor of the bill, said via email, "The law should not be a trap for the unwary. Idaho has always allowed law abiding citizens to conceal carry firearms in the counties without a permit. But current law makes it a crime for citizens to cross the invisible line into a municipality unless they openly carry their firearm, which makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Someone could drive in the county with a loaded gun holstered by their seat, but they could be committing a crime once the street crosses into a city. That is not good law."
"The Idaho Constitution and United States Constitution contain strong protections of our right to bear arms. As chairman of the Senate State Affairs Committee, I take the responsibility to defend and promote that right very seriously. In fact, part of the oath that we swear to as legislators is to ‘defend the Constitution’—and that is exactly what we are doing with this important piece of legislation," said McKenzie.
McKenzie said SB 1389 makes carry laws consistent across the state and added, "While criminals will always find ways to possess and carry weapons regardless of restrictions, we should pass laws that protect the rights of lawful citizens to protect themselves and their families."
Gun control groups are vowing to fight the measure.
Gun control group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, part of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety, claims it will put residents at risk.
"Idaho has a strong tradition of responsible gun ownership. For nearly 100 years, our current concealed carry permitting system has kept our communities, families and law enforcement safe. But instead of standing up for public safety and preserving our longstanding system, our elected leaders in the Senate today passed Senate Bill 1389," said Hannah Sharp, a volunteer for Idaho’s Mom’s Demand Action, in a prepared statement.
"If signed into law, SB 1389 would dismantle our current system and put Idahoans at risk, including law enforcement officers who risk their safety to protect us," Sharp said. "Moms across Idaho will continue to fight against this bill and to advocate for safer gun laws—our families’ lives depend on it."
Everytown for Gun Safety on Tuesday tweeted a link to an opinion piece written by three Idaho police chiefs who are opposed to the bill. They wrote that it will endanger the public and law enforcement.
The NRA, which backed the bill, blasted the Bloomberg’s group and urged their members to call the Senate State Affairs Committee prior to Monday’s hearing.
"Unfortunately, out-of-state billionaire and former New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has once again launched a misinformation campaign aimed at undermining the rights of law-abiding Idahoans," the NRA wrote on their website. "Bloomberg-funded gun control groups are misrepresenting facts and statistics in an attempt to persuade your elected officials to oppose SB 1389."
"SB 1289 will not allow violent criminals and state or federally prohibited persons to lawfully carry concealed weapons in Idaho," the NRA wrote.