Fearful that President Barack Obama will move aggressively to limit firearms, a Republican lawmaker said Feb. 14 at least two bills meant to bolster gun rights will begin their journey through the Idaho Legislature starting early next week.
Rep. Judy Boyle, of Midvale, said one measure, slated for introduction in the House State Affairs Committee Feb. 18, will strengthen state law enforcement agencies’ ability to resist any federal attempts to confiscate weapons or ammunition that’s declared illegal under federal law.
“If the feds come into the state and say, ‘You have to help us round up guns,’ this gives our state sheriffs and local law enforcement protection under state law,” she said, adding that federal agents would have to work without any state assistance if they wanted to confiscate guns.
Another separate bill would create a new category of concealed weapons permit that requires more training. Not only would it allow Idaho concealed weapons permits to be recognized in more states, such an “enhanced permit” could persuade more school boards to allow people to carry concealed weapons on their campuses.
“If schools are going to allow employees or others to carry concealed firearms, we need additional training,” Boyle said. “We want to protect the kids. This all goes back to the schools.”
Boyle said her hometown’s school board has already moved to allow people with concealed weapons permits into the district’s schools.
There are other bills under discussion but not slated for the Feb. 18 hearing, either because they aren’t finished — or consensus been reached, said Boyle, a rancher who is organizing firearms legislation in the House.
One would declare that federal commerce laws don’t apply to any guns manufactured within Idaho’s borders, and are, thus, off limits to federal regulation.
The other would strongly encourage school districts to allow teachers and other employees to be armed — or else face legal liabilities for creating gun-free zones, should a tragedy occur.
“I think they’re liable now,” Boyle said, while conceding she’s “not sure if that’s going to get consensus this year.”
The holdup is that some GOP caucus members would prefer not to tackle the issue at all, while others want to move aggressively to make sure teachers have the armed firepower that could stop an intruder like the one who killed 26 people in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, she said.
House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, is encouraging proponents of firearms-related legislation to come forward with proposals quickly, so lawmakers have a chance to adequately vet them.
“It’s time to start moving bills,” Bedke said, estimating that the 2013 session is about half over.
In fact, the session’s first Idaho gun bill got a relatively inauspicious introduction on Feb. 14 in the House State Affairs Committee, largely because few knew the measure had to do with firearms until its sponsor described it.
Rep. Terry Gestrin, R-Donnelly, wants to strike a 46-year-old law that gave cities the power to regulate, prevent and punish people for carrying a concealed weapon.
That 1967 provision conflicts with a separate law passed in 2008 forbidding counties and cities from regulating firearms, a law passed after Moscow broached the idea the previous year of restricting firearms on city property.
Though Gestrin, from rural central Idaho, described his bill as a “housekeeping measure” meant to remove competing laws, he also sees it as a symbolic first salvo in Idaho’s fight to control its firearms destiny.
“It lets the people of my district know we’re working on it, to protect their gun rights,” he said. “We’re not all just sitting down here talking about health care.”