All of us are shocked and saddened by the tragic death of Veronica Rutledge in the Wal-Mart in Hayden. Just as the horrific news broke that Rutledge had been killed, I was writing about Idaho’s concealed permit law and improvements that could be made to that law. The tragedy hits close to home for all of us who believe in the importance of the Second Amendment. Media reports say Rutledge was among those who believed in the right to keep and bear arms.
We’ve been working with Second Amendment advocates to educate lawmakers about Idaho’s concealed weapons statute, aiming to see the state join the growing list of states which allow law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons without first asking the government for permission and paying an associated fee. Vermont has long allowed its citizens to carry a concealed weapon without a license, and Alaska (2003), Arizona (2010), Wyoming (2011), and Arkansas (2013) have recently joined this trend. Montana’s legislature passed a permitless carry law (or “constitutional carry” as it is sometimes known) in 2011, but it was subsequently vetoed by the state’s governor. More than a dozen other states have had similar legislation introduced over the last few years.
It is unclear what impact Rutledge’s heartbreaking death will have on the effort to bring a proposal before the 2015 Idaho Legislature. Hopefully, legislators will view the events just after Christmas as an isolated, horrible accident. Those who oppose the right to keep and bear arms tend to highlight infrequent tragedies like this one as a pretext for not defending and expanding our rights, but a more honest analysis is needed. People die in car accidents and by falling off rooftops, but we don’t ban vehicles or ladders.
When unfortunate accidents like these happen, we should pause and reflect. We should think about and pray for the friends and families who lost a loved one. And we should honor Veronica Rutledge’s life by reacting in a way that continues to advance liberty, not compound the tragedy of her death with laws that restrict fundamental freedoms.