Idaho lawmakers will keep special gun privileges

Idaho lawmakers will keep special gun privileges »Play Video

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - An Idaho Senate committee has killed legislation that would have removed a special privilege for state elected officials to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

Among the leading advocates of killing the House-passed bill was Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, who is running for governor.

The Spokesman-Review reported that on Monday Fulcher decried the bill as political correctness.

"We do not need to relinquish our privileges," Fulcher said.

The House passed the bill after the special exemption made news last year when former Rep. Mark Patterson, R-Boise, had his concealed weapon permit revoked for not revealing an attempted rape conviction from the 1970s. However, as long as he remained a legislator, Patterson was able to continue carrying a concealed gun without a permit.

The House vote on Feb. 27 was 62-7 in favor of the bill.

Fulcher and several other members of the Senate State Affairs Committee, which killed the bill, said lawmakers often are threatened and face special circumstances that justify the exemption.

"I personally on this committee have walked out of this room and been threatened," he said. "I have had my life threatened multiple times."

But Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, the bill's Senate sponsor, said in those situations, lawmakers can get concealed weapon permits just like their constituents.

"We should fall under the same standards as the citizens we are writing these statutes for," he said.

Idahoans must get at least some gun safety training to obtain a concealed weapons permit; elected officials are now exempt from that requirement.

"This has nothing to do with political correctness, in my opinion," Hagedorn said. "It has everything to do with preparation. If you know that you are going into a contentious job as an elected official, it is your responsibility to be prepared to go into that job. And training is appropriate."

In addition to removing the elected-official exemption, the bill broadened Idaho's concealed-carry law to clarify that anyone could carry a concealed weapon without a permit outside city limits; that's now allowed only while hunting, fishing or pursuing other outdoor activities.

Hagedorn noted that the National Rifle Association and the Idaho Sheriffs' Association supported the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, said he never had gun-safety training as a youngster.

"I'm Exhibit A as to why maybe we should encourage people like me to at least go through some additional training and teaching," he said.

But Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, said, "We are giving up our freedoms, we are giving up our liberties. We have the ability now to carry, and I think that most of the citizens realize that we are in a different situation than the average guy on the street.

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Information from: The Spokesman-Review