House panel primes permitless carry

Posted at 4:53 PM, Mar 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-17 20:22:21-04

A panel of House lawmakers have approved a late bill that allows for permitless concealed carry of firearms within city limits.

The measure has quickly made its way through the Statehouse, clearing the Senate within a week. Thursday morning, the House state affairs committee heard testimony for about an hour before passing it along party lines. Proponents argue the bill furthers Second Amendment rights, but Democratic opponents believe it could bring unintended consequences.

Currently, when required to get a permit to carry a concealed gun, a sheriff's office can ask for proof of proficiency with a firearm. Often this is something as basic as a hunter's safety card, or proof of taking a handgun class. If passed, the new bill would eliminate that option. That concerns Hannah Sharp, a volunteer for Moms Demand Action.

"Not having firearms training is a serious hazard," she told the committee. "For those of you who have guns and have been through firearms training you know it important. Even hunter's education safety is enough."

The issue of safety is the watershed in the bill's approval. Democrats voted against the measure fearing it allows untrained gun owners to bring firearms into public areas and no one would be aware of it.

Law enforcement seems to be divided on the issue. The state Sheriff's Association has endorsed the legislation, as well as the Fraternal Order of Police. But individual police chiefs have been outspoken in their dissent. Boise Police Chief Bill Bones has not been quiet in his opposition to the bill.

For the Republican majority in the committee, the principles of the Second Amendment compel them to expand concealed carry rights. The final yes vote was along party lines.