A Hayden resident believes his rights were violated when he was disqualified from obtaining a concealed weapons permit because of a felony charge from over 40 years ago.
"Why are you trying to stop me from buying a gun, just because I'm charged with a crime?" said Frank Burnette.
A spokesman for the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office, however, insists the agency is following state law and Burnette has options to correct the situation.
"By no means do we want to restrict or keep people from obtaining a concealed weapon permit," said Lt. Stu Miller.
"However, if they have certain crimes on their criminal history, such as a felony charge, then we cannot issue a permit."
Burnette, who moved to Hayden in 2008, applied for a concealed weapons permit at the Sheriff's Department in mid December.
Although he already owns several guns, Burnette said he was only recently motivated to carry a weapon after reading articles about recent break-ins.
"We've been gun people all our life," said the 64-year-old, a Vietnam veteran and retired from the Army. "That's another reason we moved to Idaho. Other states are real bad on gun laws."
But Burnette received a letter this week from the Sheriff's Department stating that he was disqualified from obtaining a CWP.
The letter states that the issue is a felony charge against Burnette from 1967 in Lake County, Ind.
The letter specifies that Burnette must provide a disposition - the final determination on a criminal charge - for the charge, and seek a removal or reduction of the federal charge from his criminal history.
Burnette insists there is no disposition available, due to the nature of how he was tried.
That poses a problem.
Miller stated that under Idaho law, individuals convicted of a felony are not eligible for a CWP.
If their criminal history states that they were charged with a felony but never convicted, or that the charge was reduced and is no longer a felony, such individuals can obtain a permit.
If the charge is pending, or if there is no disposition, "we can't issue a permit," Miller stated.
"What we told Mr. Burnette was that he needed to contact the state in which there was a felony charge and get it cleaned up and possibly expunged, or have them enter a disposition of acquitted, if that was the case," Miller stated. "Then his criminal history would reflect that, and we could proceed with the permitting process."
Burnette said he doesn't think that is possible.
He wasn't convicted of the felony charge, he said. He recalls the judge treating him kindly over the auto theft charge. Burnette had been a dumb 18-year-old who couldn't resist a dare, he had explained in court.
The judge decided to try Burnette as a juvenile and put him on probation, he said. As Burnette recalls, the judge decided against providing a disposition, to avoid interpretation that Burnette had been convicted of a felony.
When the Press requested confirmation of the case details, staff at Lake County Juvenile Probation said information from juvenile records can't be released without a subpoena.
Burnette said he hasn't been able to expunge his record.
"When something is done as a juvenile, they have to keep the records sealed," said Burnette.
Lake County Juvenile Division staff said expunging a juvenile record can be done, though, and requires an application, a background check and a court appearance.
Miller noted that the FBI can also expunge records.
Burnette said he didn't have trouble getting a CWP in Indiana or Arizona, when he lived in those states.
He also has successfully purchased several guns without a hitch, he added.
"What burns my butt is they're assuming you're guilty," Burnette said of his unsuccessful permit application.
He is looking into filing a lawsuit against the Sheriff's Department, he said.
Miller confirmed that denial of a CWP isn't something Burnette can appeal.
"It's not an appeal issue," he stated. "We follow state laws regarding concealed weapons permits."