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House Bill 295 — Firearms, merchant codes

House Bill 295 — Firearms, merchant codes

Parrish Miller
March 10, 2023

Bill Description: House Bill 295 would prohibit state and local governments or other parties from establishing a registry of firearms or firearm owners.

Rating: +2

NOTE: House Bill 295 is related to House Bill 241, introduced earlier this session. 

NOTE: House Bill 295 was amended in the Senate to narrow the scope and protections of the bill. Rather than broadly protecting gun owners from collusion and surveillance from all financial institutions, the amendment limits the bill's protections only to "payment networks." While the amendment weakens the protections contained in the bill, it does not change the rating.

Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?

House Bill 241 would create Section 18-3326, Idaho Code, titled the Second Amendment Financial Privacy Act, to protect gun buyers from being added to an official or unofficial registry of privately owned firearms or of firearms owners.

The bill contains a legislative intent section that says, in part, the "potential for cooperative surveillance and tracking of lawful firearm and ammunition purchases will have a significant chilling effect on citizens wishing to exercise their federal and state constitutional rights to keep and bear arms in Idaho."

At issue is the use of a new "merchant category code" to track gun and ammunition sales based on financial data provided whenever a purchase is made. The new merchant category code will be used "to conduct mass surveillance of constitutionally protected firearms and ammunition purchases in cooperation with law enforcement."

The intent of this bill is, by its own language, "to prohibit the misuse of payment card processing systems to surveil, report, or otherwise discourage constitutionally protected firearm, firearm accessories or components, and ammunition purchases and sales within Idaho's jurisdiction."

The bill also creates Section 18-3326A, Idaho Code, which says, in part, "Except for those records kept during the regular course of a criminal investigation and prosecution or as otherwise required by law, a state government entity or local government, special district, or other political subdivision or official, agent, or employee of the state or other government entity or any other person, public or private, other than the owner or owner's representative, may not knowingly and willfully keep or cause to be kept any list, record, or registry of privately owned firearms or any list, record, or registry of the owners of those firearms."


The bill additionally protects private businesses from being forced by financial institutions payment networks to participate in this surveillance scheme, stating that "a financial institution payment network or its agent may not require the usage of a firearms code in a way that distinguishes a firearms retailer physically located in the state of Idaho from Idaho general merchandise retailers or sporting goods retailers."


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