Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Idaho Constitutional Carry and a "Secret Committee on Gun Law"

Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke  from the Idaho Reporter

I have been watching the drama in Idaho, as grassroots activists attempt to get constitutional carry passed in the state.  You would think that this would be easy; Idaho is a gun friendly state.  You would be wrong.  While Idaho has done a number of reforms in recent years, the constitutional carry bill is stalled.  The best attempt at understanding what is happening was compiled by Domandred, a contributor on freerepublic.com.  He wrote an essay explaining his view of the situation from inside of Idaho.   From freerepublic.com:
Constitutional Carry is currently available in five States.  Fourteen States have active legislation pending to move the State to a Constitutional Carry model, including Maine, New Hampshire and Colorado.  Idaho’s legislation (HB89) has been blocked and declared dead by an ad-hoc secret committee.

This ad-hoc secret committee has no published members, no scheduled meetings, and no public hearings on bills being voted on.  This committee has handles all bills introduced that cover firearms in the State of Idaho.  It is rumored it is a joint House and Senate committee.

Idaho’s multiple concealed carry levels

Idaho currently has multiple levels of legal concealed carry.  There is the basic Concealed Weapons License, the Enhanced Concealed Weapons License, elected officials can concealed carry without any permit, and finally permitless concealed carry outside city limits while participating in lawful outdoor shooting activities (hunting and target shooting).

The Enhanced Concealed Carry License was designed for the sole purpose of allowing Idaho citizens to get reciprocity with other States including Washington and Nevada who required live fire training.  Idaho’s basic permit at minimum only required a lecture class and background check to obtain.  Since its inception the Enhanced Concealed Carry License has also been used to give holders extra privileges in the ability to legally carry concealed on college campuses.

Conflicting Bills

This year, through citizen action,
H89 was finally introduced.  This bill removes the requirement for law abiding people to have a concealed weapons permit.  The basic and enhanced permits are still available for the purposes of reciprocity with other States that require a permit.  H89 has one single co-sponsor, freshman representative Heather Scott (R-District 1).  H89 has the support of various pro liberty groups in Idaho, as well as Gun Owners of America.  In an unscientific poll taken in Eastern Idaho upwards of 70 to 80 percent supported Constitutional Carry.

Through the legislature
S1090 was also introduced.  This bill rewrites the current concealed carry laws to give the language better flow and definitions.  The current bill is pieces and parts from various legislations over the years and S1090 attempts to fix that.  It keeps the current permit system intact, but does remove the “outdoor activities” requirement for a concealed carry permit outside of city limits.  The bill requires instructors of training to provide syllabus and written description of course of fire to county sheriffs on demand.  Another part of this bill would add NCIS, and mental health records to the background check performed by Idaho for the basic concealed carry permits.

Several members of the Idaho Legislature have stated that the NRA helped write and is supporting S1090 and not H89.  Idaho’s secret gun committee also supports S1090.

The Fight

Over the last few years a legal gun rights fight has occurred in Idaho.

In 2008 problems with combining the Idaho preemption bill with concealed weapons on college campuses brought about the supposed need for an ad-hoc gun legislation committee.  In a nutshell it made concealed carry on campus illegal for all instead of legal for students (it was legal for non-students, but students faced expulsion).

Idaho Second Amendment Alliance was formed in 2013 to move Idaho towards a Constitutional Carry State as well as a citizen’s group for gun rights in Idaho.  The ISAA was told in 2013 by the Idaho Legislature that it wasn’t time for Constitutional Carry in Idaho.

That year the Idaho legislature devised the Enhanced Concealed Weapons License as a method for Idaho citizens to obtain reciprocity with several States that did not honor Idaho’s basic Concealed Weapons License.  This new permit was billed as being only for reciprocity with other States and not for other purposes.

2014 finally brought concealed carry to Idaho college campuses, but only if people had the “only for reciprocity” Enhanced Concealed Weapons License.  With pushback Idaho colleges made it so weapons were still banned from public venues that supported over 1000 people, meaning pretty much all public events on campus.

The Idaho legislature again told the ISAA that it wasn’t time for Constitutional Carry in Idaho.

In 2015 the ISAA dropped H89 on the Idaho House of Representatives without the okay and blessing of Speaker Scott Bedke.  The bill was almost immediately given a print hearing and passed committee vote 11-4 for the bill to be printed and a full house hearing.

At this point Speaker Bedke “assigned” the bill to his ad-hoc secret committee on gun legislation.  H89 was never given its full hearing.  On March 5th, 2015 outside of any committee hearings, State Affairs Committee Chairman Loertscher told several members of the ISAA of H89 “I’m done with this bill.  It isn’t going anywhere.”

Through the battle for Constitutional Carry several legislatures have stated that they like the training requirements of the Enhanced Concealed Weapons License and do not think just anyone should be able to concealed carry without it.

One Republican representative was quoted saying “We can carry now, just not concealed, what's the difference that's one of our privileges the nation was started with”


S1090 is still active legislation and appears will be passed on party lines and headed to the Governor’s desk.   It is expected that Governor Otter will sign the bill into law.
As far as Constitutional Carry goes at this time it doesn’t look like the Idaho Legislature has any real interest in it and seemingly would rather do away with the basic Concealed Weapons License in favor of the Enhanced version.
From another freeper, commenting on the existence of a "secret committee", Netalia, writes:
I stood there on the steps of the capital, a couple weeks ago... and heard them speak openly about this “secret comity” And I believe it.
It needs to be exposed. Period. And so do the legislators that refuse to roll back un-constitutional laws. No one else is reporting this.
I have done some searching, and it turns out that the "secret committee" that deals with gun law reform is real.  The committee does not publish dates of meetings, keep minutes, or publish an agenda.  This would make all of its workings subject to public record and scrutiny.  We have a pretty good idea of who the membership is.

 The "secret committee" isn't so secret.  In February, Speaker Scott Bedke openly spoke of it to the idahoreporter.com:
Bedke says that’s not so. Instead of a definite block of Pruitt’s bill, Bedke said he’s only opting to use a proven playbook to move firearm legislation.

“The last couple years, we’ve found a winning formula that moves gun legislation in the Idaho House and the Idaho Senate and gets it to the governor’s desk,” Bedke explained. That method involves using an ad hoc group to review gun issues. The group includes Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, and Sen. Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, among others.

In 2014, the group helped steer through to passage a bill that allowed concealed weapons, under certain conditions, to be allowed on college campuses. Bedke says the group continues to support additional gun rights.

“All of them are pro-2nd Amendment,” Bedke said. “We have worked out differences in that group.”
An article at Magicvalley.com, confirms the existence of the unofficial group:
The new gun bill on Monday’s agenda was hashed out by an informal group of lawmakers, including Youngblood and Reps. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale and Jason Monks, R-Meridian, who vet gun legislation.

Bedke said the group started to meet a few years ago, to get input from law enforcement and others on proposed gun bills and make sure they can pass both houses. Before, he said, gun laws would pass one house but not the other.

“I think this process has served us very well, and we hope to continue to use it,” Bedke said.
Lawmakers intend to pass a reform bill, and it will likely be signed into law by Governor Otter.   It appears that ISSA will not get constitutional carry this year, but something a bit closer to constitutional carry than what exists now.  I wonder might have happened if ISSA had been included in the ruminations of the "secret committee".   The end result might have been more to their liking.  The NRA may have been consulted; they approve of S1090.   I should mention that the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR) has been pushing for the constitutional carry bill, H89.  My impression is that no love is lost between the NRA and NAGR. 

This is why open meeting and sunshine laws were passed.  I have worked in large organizations, and I know that conforming with these laws is time consuming.  It is hard to get things done when every thing said is subject to public comment and scrutiny.   But the laws were passed for a reason.  There have been plenty of back room deals done that have abused the public trust.  The laws help reduce the suspicion that the elite are working behind our backs to do things that we would not approve of.  It is troubling that the "secret committee" would talk to "law enforcement" but not to the most prominent grassroots activist group.

Does the "secret committee" violate the open meeting law?  It is not entirely clear.  It is hard to believe that Speaker Bedke would be so open about breaking the law.   But then, look at the example in the White House.   I do not see how the legislature expects to work on more reforms without including ISSA.  They have earned a place at the table.

©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch


Anonymous said...

This is interesting. My general impression from watching gun politics in various states has been that passing a campus carry bill was generally harder than passing a constitutional carry one, due to the power of the education lobby. Given that Idaho allowed campus carry last year, it is surprising to the constitutional carry bill stall there.

Anonymous said...

I have known Scott Bedke since we were kids. Trust me, no one is more pro-gun that Scott. He's an actual cowboy and spends months riding the range in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada, and he's always armed. But he's also methodical and thoughtful and he's not going to push constitutional carry until every i is dotted and t crossed, and when it is finally passed, it will be legally unassailable. Its not as simple as copying a statute from some other state. It will get done.

Dean Weingarten said...

Thank you for the input. It is this sort of information that is invaluable.

I see a similar situation in Mississippi. Scott Bedke seems like a good guy. I wish him the best.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but if nobody was more pro-gun than Bedke he would have helped the ISAA fix whatever the problem with H89 was instead of helping to shelve it and giving us H243 that is basically the current laws now just rearranged and rewritten.

No Bedke is just like most establishment GOP. They'll say they are pro-liberty, but you find out that liberty is regulated.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Weingarten,

While we don't mind you taking pictures from IdahoReporter.com, we ask that you provide attribution when you do utilize our materials.

Therefore, will you identify the Bedke picture as ours or remove it from your blog?