Gun owner sues sheriff's department

Sheriff says man missed deadline, must file newpermit application

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A Coeur d'Alene resident is suing the Kootenai County sheriff, over a claim that the official is illegally refusing to renew the individual's concealed weapons permit.

"All the personnel at the sheriff's department were making their rules up as they went along," reads the suit filed by William Cardwell in District Court on Monday.

But Sheriff Rocky Watson is calm about the situation.

Cardwell simply asked for a renewal a few years too late, Watson said, and must be subject to an all new permit application and a background check before concealing a gun again.

"He's saying 'trust me,' and the law doesn't give us that latitude," Watson said.

Last week, Cardwell said, he visited the sheriff's department to renew his concealed weapons permit, first obtained in 2003 and which expired in 2007.

Staff members acted "dumbfounded," Cardwell said, and after looking into the matter informed him that he couldn't renew the permit and must apply for an original permit instead.

According to Cardwell's suit, "Watson had stated this was KCSD rules and procedures and this was how they were going to handle it."

Watson confirmed on Monday that that is the case.

He pointed out that a renewal can only occur if a permit is still valid. And under Idaho statute 18-3302, a concealed weapons license is only renewable 90 days prior to and after its expiration.

"He doesn't have a permit. It's expired," Watson said.

But Cardwell is arguing otherwise.

He alluded to a different part of statute 18-3302, stating that a licensee renewing 91 days or longer after a permit's expiration must only pay a late penalty of $10 on top of the renewal fee.

The statute doesn't state that a person must apply as an original applicant, he pointed out.

And it also specifies that a city or county "shall not modify" those requirements, he said.

"I think they had the best intentions, but they got it wrong," Cardwell said of the sheriff's department policy.

He believes the sheriff is overstepping his bounds in his interpretation of the law, Cardwell said.

And he contends that the refusal to renew Cardwell's permit violates his civil rights under the second amendment.

"It's the principle of the thing," he said.

The suit requests the court enjoin the sheriff's department from refusing to renew Cardwell's permit, and demands the department reform its procedure and training so permit requirements follow the law.

"I don't think any government entity should be able to affect our individual rights, that's all," Cardwell said.

According to the 18-3302 statute, a licensee applying for a renewal must complete an application that is sent to the Idaho State Police for a records check of state and national database.

Watson held firm to the county's policy, adding that his department sends written notice to permit holders during the renewal period of 90 days.

"We don't go beyond that, particularly four years," he said. "Four years is plenty of time to do something to prevent him from having a concealed weapon permit."

Like breaking a variety of laws, Watson noted.

That's why Cardwell must apply for an original license, he explained, which requires applicants to submit fingerprints that will be checked by the state police for any charges or convictions across the country.

"There's a reason for it," Watson said. "And it's to make sure people who aren't qualified because of criminal convictions or acts don't have guns."

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