BOISE — A bill to let 18- to 21-year-olds carry concealed handguns without a permit in city limits is headed to the House floor.

The House State Affairs Committee voted to advance the bill Tuesday morning, with all the Republicans plus Rep. Elaine Smith, D-Pocatello, in favor, and Reps. John Gannon and Brooke Green, both D-Boise, opposed.

Idaho eliminated the need for a concealed carry permit under most circumstances in 2016. Under current law, adults under 21 can carry concealed outside of city limits and can carry a firearm openly within a city, but cannot carry concealed within a city without a permit.

“This bill is for the purpose of simplifying our gun laws,” said Rep. Julianne Young, R-Blackfoot, who is co-sponsoring the bill along with Rep. Christy Zito, R-Hammett. “It also points us back to the principle that by giving responsible citizens the ability to defend themselves, we actually lower gun violence and other deaths we wish to prevent.”

Young said crime rates have gone down since Idaho started to allow permitless carry, and that there doesn’t seem to be any difference in crime rates between states that allow permitless carry and set the floor at 18 versus 21.

“All this will do is add clarification to the law, eliminate confusion and extend those rights that they already have to that little bit of real estate in the state of Idaho within city limits,” Zito said.

People ages 18 to 21 can legally possess a handgun in Idaho and can buy one through a private sale. However, you have to be 21 to buy a handgun from a federally licensed dealer per federal law, and this bill wouldn’t change that.

Three members of the public testified at the hearing, including Idaho Second Amendment Alliance head Greg Pruett and his young son. All favored the change.

“There is no requirement of any training or experience with weapons in the bill and some kind of minimal familiarity with them is something we should expect and require before they carry concealed handguns period,” Gannon said in a statement explaining his vote.

Green said most 18-year-olds are still in high school and often hang out with younger teenagers.

“And, it terrifies me to think of a group of kids playing video games, running around the park, or riding bikes while one of them is holding onto a gun,” she said. “It’s impossible to guarantee that younger kids will not grab at the gun and potentially cause an accident.”

Reporter Nathan Brown can be reached at 208-542-6757. Follow him on Twitter: @NateBrownNews.

Reporter, government and politics

Load comments