The Idaho Second Amendment Alliance is knocking second-term Rep. Paul Romrell, R-St. Anthony, for his stance on banning certain guns and magazines.
ISAA is a leading proponent of gun rights in Idaho and at the State Capitol. The Alliance said one of Romrell’s answers to a recent survey, sent to legislative candidates, is “disturbing.”
The ISAA survey asked Romrell and his District 35 Republican primary challenger Karey Hanks, along with all other candidates in contested Statehouse races, to declare if they would support a ban on semi-automatic assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Romrell answered affirmatively, indicating he would support such a ban on certain firearms and magazines. Hanks answered no.
ISAA President Greg Pruett told IdahoReporter.com this week that he was so shocked by Romrell’s answer that he sent the legislator a follow-up email to confirm the choice.
Romrell “responded by stating, ‘I stand by my no vote,’” Pruett wrote on an ISAA social media post that hammered Romrell.
ISAA decided to let the voters know about Romrell’s answer. “We thought it was a little strange coming from an Idaho Republican legislator,” said Pruett, who founded the group more than four years ago.
So far, Romrell is the only legislative candidate from either party who returned the survey and indicated support for a law banning some guns and magazines.
Pruett said the legislator’s stance runs contrary to the Second Amendment and stands devoid of critical reasoning.
“Banning such items would be a clear violation of the Second Amendment,” Pruett said. Romrell’s stance “is disturbing because those are weapons that are common in usage.”
Pruett added that restricting the sale of semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity magazines would do little, or nothing, to increase public safety in Idaho.
“There’s no rational argument to ban high-capacity magazines,” Pruett said. “There just is none.”
The nation’s discussion on guns and gun violence has escalated in recent years as disturbed individuals have opened fire in public spaces across the country. Shootings in Newtown, Conn., Roseburg, Ore., Charleston, S.C., and Aurora, Colo., have prompted Americans to re-evaluate their position on gun ownership.
Some states have responded by restricting gun sales, or imposing new taxes on firearm purchases, while others have traveled the opposite direction. Idaho and Kansas passed laws to allow residents of those states to carry guns without a government permit. This year, Texas legalized open carry, or the ability to carry a gun in plain view, as long as the gun owner has a permit.
Romrell supported Idaho’s permitless-carry vote on the Idaho House floor this year, which Pruett applauded. Still, the ISAA president would like Romrell to expound on his survey answer.
“Those bans only hurt law-abiding gun owners,” Pruett said. “I’d like to hear his reasoning. I think that clarity might only help his constituents understand his stance on that issue.”
Romrell has not yet responded to an IdahoReporter.com email about the issue.
A study released in 2015 by researchers from Columbia University and Boston University revealed that 56.9 percent of Idahoans own firearms, placing Idahoans in the top handful of states nationally for gun ownership. Alaska sits atop the chart, with 61.7 of its residents being declared gun owners.
Delaware, with only 5.2 percent of residents declaring gun ownership in that study, rests at the bottom of the 50 states.
Despite Idaho’s high gun ownership rates, 2014 Federal Bureau of Investigation data suggest Idahoans are just as likely to be murdered by a person with a gun as they are by someone using a knife, their hands and feet, or other weapons.
Note: This story originally said Romrell is a first-term lawmaker. He is in his second term in the Idaho House. IdahoReporter.com regrets the error.