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Legislature ignores Bloomberg lobbying, advances gun rights bill

Legislature ignores Bloomberg lobbying, advances gun rights bill

Dustin Hurst
March 17, 2016
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March 17, 2016

Maybe New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s gun-control group could have picked a better audience.

His group, Everytown for Gun Safety, may have wasted its time, effort and money trying to persuade Idaho lawmakers to vote against a bill that would give more Idaho adults the right to conceal-carry handguns sans a government permit.

On Sunday, Everytown, based in New York, placed a full-page ad in the Idaho Statesman, the Gem State’s largest newspaper, which urged legislators to reject the bill and continue mandated permits.

Since then, Everytown has gone 0 and 3, losing at every stage of the game. On Monday morning, the Senate State Affairs Committee approved the measure by a large majority.

Then, the Idaho Senate approved the measure Tuesday on a 27 to 8 vote. Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, who lost a son to gun violence in 2003, stood as the only Republican to oppose the bill on the floor. All Senate Democrats voted against it.

To complete the trifecta, the House State Affairs Committee voted today to approve the bill, this time on a straight party-line vote. Reps. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, and Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls, expressed concerns with various portions of the bill during the hearing, but said testimony quelled their questions.

Besides the full-page newspaper ad, legislators also ignored lobbying from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, an Everytown offshoot. Hannah Sharp, a Boise resident who spoke Thursday on behalf of the moms organization, said Idaho’s permitting system has worked well for nearly 100 years and should be left in place.

However, the conceal-carry bill wouldn’t dismantle the permitting system. Instead, it would allow law-abiding Idahoans over the age of 21 to conceal-carry firearms without a permit, throughout the state, whether within or outside of city limits.

But, the proposed law would require Idahoans between 18 and 20 to take a training course and secure a permit before they could carry concealed within city limits. They would still retain the right to conceal-carry firearms without a permit outside of city boundaries.

Federal law prohibits 18-to-20-year-olds from purchasing handguns.

Bill sponsor Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, said the measure won’t change much for Idahoans who follow the law, and won’t make police duties more difficult or dangerous for law enforcement personnel. To assuage committee concerns about public safety, McKenzie touted support for his plan from the Idaho Sheriffs Association and the Fraternal Order of Police.

The Idaho Second Amendment Alliance and the Idaho Freedom Foundation also backed the bill during the committee hearing Thursday.

The bill now heads for a House floor vote in the next few days as the Legislature wraps up its business for the year. If the measure succeeds there, it will head to Gov. Butch Otter’s desk for his consideration. Otter appeared uncommitted to the concept earlier this year, but Idaho’s lieutenant governor, Brad Little, this week endorsed the bill in a column released to the public.

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