On July 1, 2016, permitless concealed carry, also referred to as Constitutional Carry, becomes the law in Idaho. We become the eighth state in the Union to recognize this method of legally carrying a concealed firearm. West Virginia’s permitless carry law, passed earlier this month, takes effect June 5, 2016.
Contrary to the belief of some, this does not mean that ANYBODY can now carry a concealed firearm. If you were disqualified from owning and carrying a firearm prior to the enactment of this law, you are still disqualified from owning and carrying a firearm. That has not changed.
If you choose to obtain a standard concealed weapons license or enhanced concealed weapons license in order to carry outside the state, you still can. That has not changed.
The open carrying of a firearm by law-abiding individuals is legal throughout the state. That has not changed.
There are certain enumerated locations where firearms cannot be legally carried; public or private schools, court houses, jails, etc. That has not changed.
Prior to the enacting of this law, law-abiding individuals who are 18 years of age and older were allowed to legally carry concealed firearms outside city limits without a permit. That has not changed.
Prior to the enactment of this law those who chose to legally carry openly or those who chose to carry without a permit, outside city limits were not required to undergo any government-mandated formal training. That has not changed, and has been the law for over a century.
Where are all the examples of the handwringing naysayers about traffic accidents, bar-room arguments, domestic disputes etc. turning into shooting incidents from these untrained, by state mandate, unpermitted Idahoans already legally carrying their firearms?
Check with Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Maine, Vermont and Wyoming. Ask them if recognizing the rights of the law-abiding created rampant crime in the streets.
Those who choose to legally carry a concealed firearm must understand that with a recognition of greater rights comes greater responsibility. Law-abiding gun owners have a responsibility to know and understand self-defense laws and the carrying laws of other states. Law-abiding firearms owners have a responsibility to learn how to safely and responsibly carry, possess and store their firearms. From my experience, a vast majority of law-abiding gun owners already take these responsibilities very seriously. That has not and will not change.
This law was passed with the support of the Idaho Sheriff’s Association and the largest police organization in the state, Idaho Fraternal Order of Police. The FOP said; “law abiding, mentally sound and responsible gun owners are our partners in keeping crime rates low in Idaho.”
What HAS changed is that now a law-abiding, adult Idahoan who chooses to legally carry a concealed firearm for personal protection does not have to worry about entering an incorporated city and suddenly finding themselves to be illegally carrying a firearm. As an example, Kootenai County is about 1,310 square miles. Its 14 incorporated cities account for just under 53 square miles, or just over 4 percent of the county. How is a law-abiding citizen expected to know when he is traversing in and out of some city’s boundaries as he drives from Spirit Lake to Worley, or from Harrison to Athol? Not every road leading into every city is clearly marked. Ninety-six percent of the time he is legally carrying a concealed firearm. Bear in mind that if he was openly carrying, absent the restricted locations, he would be legal 100 percent of the time. What this law does is remove the checkerboard application of our rights to be legally armed.
Our Second Amendment rights and our Idaho Constitutional rights do not begin or end at a city boundary.
Dwight Van Horn is a resident of Hayden and a member of the National Rifle Association’s board of directors since 1998.