Yesterday, the Idaho House State Affairs Committee voted to send House Bill 301 to the House floor with a Do Pass recommendation. HB 301 is an important NRA-backed piece of legislation that seeks to reform Idaho's confusing and unwieldy concealed weapons licensing statute to remove inherent ambiguities and provide explicit statutory guidance for citizens and law enforcement, alike. HB 301 will likely receive a third reading and vote early next week.
HB 301 does not seek to present an alternative to “constitutional carry,” which has been declared “dead” by legislative leadership. It is not “constitutional carry lite.” While the NRA supports the right of law-abiding individuals to possess concealed weapons without first having to obtain a government-issued permit, this legislation does not seek to achieve that goal. The purpose of this legislation is to re-codify existing law in a manner that provides Idaho residents and law enforcement officials with clear and unambiguous guidance on the rights and restrictions contained in the provisions of Idaho Code regulating the carrying of concealed weapons.
The NRA believes that this re-write accomplishes the stated goal in four major ways. First, HB 301 provides definitions for commonly used diction. Second, this legislation—where possible—places statutory provisions in list format, as opposed to the burdensome paragraphical format that is currently used. Third, the proposed re-write seeks to clarify provisions pertaining to carrying of concealed weapons outside the “limits or confines of any city.” Fourth, the legislation seeks to lower CWL fees by providing that the sheriffs may only charge the actual cost of administering the license.
The legislation will define commonly used terms in the Code, such as concealed weapon, deadly weapon, firearm and loaded.
- The insertion of definitions into the Code is necessary to provide notice to citizens and law enforcement of the conduct that is being regulated. For example, section 18-3302(7) currently defines concealed weapon to mean “any dirk, dirk knife, bowie knife, dagger, pistol, revolver or any other deadly or dangerous weapon.” Not only does this definition dismiss the fact that any of these devices may be carried openly, and, therefore, not be “concealed weapons” but it also represents a dangerously broad definition of unlawful conduct. Section 18-3302I defines “deadly or dangerous weapon” as “a weapon, device, instrument, material or substance that is used for, or is readily capable of, causing death or serious bodily injury.” As a result, under Idaho law, anything that is “readily capable of” causing death or serious bodily injury qualifies as a “concealed weapon,” regardless of whether an individual intends to use it for that purpose. Accordingly, possession of a concealed hammer or screwdriver would be a criminal offense under current law.
The legislation would re-codify existing law in a manner that provides Idaho residents and law enforcement officials with clear and unambiguous guidance on the rights and restrictions contained in the provisions of Idaho Code regulating the carrying of concealed weapons. Currently, section 18-3302, Idaho Code, contains poorly worded provisions that have been discretionarily interpreted by law enforcement in a manner that is in contravention with the intent and language of the Code.
- For example section 18-3302(9), Idaho Code, indicates that possession of a concealed weapon in a motor vehicle, without a license, is lawful outside “the limits or confines of any city.” However, certain law enforcement officials in the state staunchly maintain that such conduct is in fact a crime and are enforcing their misguided interpretation of the language. Furthermore, section 18-3302(12)(d), Idaho Code, provides that “[t]he requirement to secure a license to carry a concealed weapon under this section shall not apply to…[a]ny person outside the limits or confines of any city while engaged in lawful hunting, fishing, trapping or other lawful outdoor activity.” Some law enforcement officials have stated that the “other lawful outdoor activity” language is meaningless.
The legislation will allow sheriffs to collect only $20.00 plus the actual cost of “additional fees necessary to cover the cost of processing fingerprints” and the actual cost of “materials for the license,” thereby lowering the costs from CWL and ECWL original issuance and renewal.
- For example, current licensing fees vary in price between $64.00 and $110.00. The NRA believes that CWL fees should only reflect the actual cost of fulfilling all statutorily mandated responsibilities associated with the licensing process; anything above that should by definition be considered a revenue-generating tax. Accordingly, the NRA does not believe that law-abiding CWL holders be overcharged or additionally taxed for exercising their constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms and their fundamental right to self-defense.
Your NRA-ILA is committed to fighting to ensure law-abiding Idahoans are protected from unwarranted prosecution and excessive fees for merely wishing to exercise their right to carry concealed weapons in accordance with Idaho law. We hope that you will join the NRA in supporting this important pro-gun legislation. Please contact members of the House State Affairs Committee and thank them for supporting this important reform legislation. Also, please contact your state Representative and respectfully urge him or her to support HB 301.