The 2015 Idaho legislative session ended several weeks ago and the frustration and anger of Gem State gun owners continue to grow. Many feel like there is nothing they can do to be heard by their representatives in Boise.
I can promise you, as the head of the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance, we won't back down on Constitutional Carry, and we won't kneel before the whims of the Legislature's secretive gun committee.
Let me offer a short history of our efforts on this issue.
Many feel that other states seem to be more receptive to their citizens as real pro-gun bills are passing and Idaho watches on the sidelines. The Idaho Legislature had a chance to pass a real, pro-liberty bill this year in House Bill 89, which would have brought Constitutional Carry for Idahoans.
The Idaho Freedom Foundation rated House Bill 89 a +5 on their Freedom Index, the highest score among legislation introduced this year.
There are, unfortunately, deep misunderstandings about what Constitutional Carry is and why it's so important for residents.
For those unfamiliar with the topic, Constitutional Carry is a common term for law-abiding citizens being able to carry their firearms concealed within a state without having to obtain a permit from a government agency.
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More accurately, this is called permitless carry. As long as you can legally own and purchase a firearm, you can carry it concealed without a permit. Is the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance trying to start this trend of not permitting for concealed carry? Not at all. There are six states with Constitutional Carry: Vermont (never required a permit), Alaska (2003), Arizona (2010), Wyoming (2011), Arkansas (2014), and Kansas (2015).
That is a list of mostly conservative states. So what is happening in Idaho? Republicans have an overwhelming majority in both chambers and they control the governor's office, so one might believe passing Constitutional Carry shouldn’t be a problem.
The ISAA has tried to pass Constitutional Carry in Idaho since the 2013, with no success -- even in ruby red Idaho! We have been going all around the state and asking Idaho gun owners what they want to see and each year the top answer is always, “We want Constitutional Carry!” We have collected more than 5,000 signatures in a very short amount of time from Idahoans who want this.
Yet, this session was the first time we were finally able to get a bill introduced.
Idaho gun owners' hopes were short lived as Rep. Tom Loertscher, the Republican chair of the State Affairs Committee, and Speaker Scott Bedke killed House Bill 89 before it even got a full hearing.
They changed their reasoning every week in a stalling maneuver. Eventually, lawmakers decided to worry about the bill's wording.
That's a good excuse to kill any bill. However, if the language in the bill needed to be tweaked, why didn’t they work with the ISAA to fix it and move it along? Probably because House Bill 89 didn’t get permission to run the bill from the secret gun committee.
This committee is not officially sanctioned and no one seems to really know all who are involved with it. Instead, the gun committee focused on what would eventually become House Bill 301, a bill no Idaho gun owners were asking for.
We must now turn our focus to 2016.
In the run up to next year's session, we are asking public officials across the state for their position on Constitutional Carry and publishing their answers on our website. Instead of bowing to a secretive, ad hoc gun committee, legislators need to answer to the public and be accountable for their political opinions.
Anything less than that is completely and totally unacceptable.
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