I support the passage of Idaho Senate Bill 1389 (SB 1389) for several reasons. It is not a perfect bill, but it is a step in the right direction and worth supporting because it will allow many Idahoans carry a concealed handgun within city limits without a license without facing negative legal repercussions.
Let me preface this by saying that on principle I agree that there should be no restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms. I believe that if you have the right to breathe, you have the right to carry a concealed full-auto weapon, walk around with a bazooka, or drive a tank down the street. That said, let's discuss what this bill actually does. Many of the complaints being levied against it seem to be directed at the current law rather than at the changes made by SB 1389.
There are effectively three changes being made to the current law.
- The bill enacts permitless carry for those who are age 21 or older, an Idaho resident, and not disqualified from obtaining a concealed carry license. This additional language does NOT expand any existing rules or tighten restrictions. It simply allows a certain group of people to carry concealed handguns without a license without facing the threat of being arrested, caged, or fined. The age and residency restrictions apply ONLY to the concealed carry of handguns within city limits without a license.
- The bill makes it easier for someone with a "violent" misdemeanor conviction in their past to obtain a concealed weapons permit or carry without one. (Keep in mind that truly violent crimes aren't typically misdemeanors, but are felonies.) Under the current law, anyone who has been convicted of a "crime of violence constituting a misdemeanor" cannot get a concealed carry license "unless three (3) years have elapsed since entry of judgment or successful completion of probation prior to the date on which the application is submitted." The new language expounds on the definition of "crime of violence constituting a misdemeanor" by using the phrase "a misdemeanor offense that has as an element the intentional use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another." The improvement is that instead of requiring that three years have elapsed since the "successful completion of probation," the law now requires only that "the person has successfully completed probation." In short, once one's probation is over, their rights are restored instead of having to wait an additional three years.
- Under current law, Idahoans aged 18-20 can get a concealed carry permit only if they "in the judgment of the sheriff warrant the issuance of the license." Under the new language contained in SB 1389, the sheriff "shall issue" a concealed carry license to Idahoans aged 18-20 who "meet the requirements for issuance of a license under section 18-3302K, Idaho Code." This change makes it significantly easier for young Idahoans to legally carry a concealed weapon.
I agree that this bill could be better, but it is a positive step overall. No one who can legally do something under the current law will be prohibited from doing that same thing under SB 1389. Several actions that are currently considered illegal, however—such as carrying a concealed handgun within city limits without a license—will now be legal for most Idahoans. That's at least one step in the right direction.
P.S. There will be a hearing on this bill in the Senate State Affairs Committee on Monday, March 14, 2016, at 8:00 AM. I recommend you show up and testify in favor.