Teton County Sheriff Tony Liford endorsed statewide permitless concealed carry Wednesday, saying government permission to hide guns does little to deter crime or shootings.
“I don’t know what it is about a concealed weapons permit that makes everyone feel better,” Liford said.
His comments came just more than a month after a state law allowing permitless concealed carry in unincorporated county areas took effect, which Idaho lawmakers wrote and passed this year.
Liford, a retired New York City cop, said concealed carry without government’s approval doesn’t bother him and he’s not concerned with the safety of his deputies.
“If you’re carrying a gun and you’re a bad guy, then you’re a bad guy,” he said. “Bad guys have concealed weapons permits.”
Greg Pruett, president and founder of the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance, introduced a statewide permitless carry bill in the 2015 legislative session, but House leadership declined to allow a hearing. The Legislature instead rewrote the state code governing concealed weapons. That revision included permitless carry outside city limits.
Liford believes concealed permits should be optional statewide, which would allow carriers to pack weapons in states reciprocating with Idaho.
“You can carry a gun in Idaho,” he said. “Now, you’ve got taxpayers essentially subsidizing those who want to carry guns in other states.”
Liford’s office recently slashed its highest-in-the-state fee for a permit from $115 to $64.45, a cut due in part to the concealed weapons rewrite. The sheriff said he can no longer fully cover expenses associated with administering concealed permits.
“It’d be actual costs if nobody worked here,” Liford said, referencing the reforms that limited sheriffs to a $20 fee for permits, plus the actual cost of administering background checks and fingerprints.
His answer isn’t a fee hike, but switching to permitless carry. “If you make it optional, you can can charge a fee because you don’t need it,” he said.
Liford isn’t the only sheriff in the region who supports permitless carry. Madison County Sheriff Roy Klingler fully endorsed the concept earlier this year in an email to Pruett.
“Many times the citizens will be the first backup for me or my deputies and it is time for less regulation and more trust,” the Madison sheriff wrote at the time.
Maine and Kansas approved permitless carry this year, joining six other states, including Vermont, that allow the practice.