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Local activists march in Boise to support gun rights

Idaho

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Thousands of Idahoans marched on the capital building in Boise in support of constitutional carry. | Photo courtesy John Henager

BOISE — Nearly 1,000 gun rights activists marched from The Grove in Boise to the capitol building in support of constitutional carry this weekend.

Many eastern Idahoans traveled to Boise and were in the crowd to show their support for cause. Constitutional carry refers the right of individuals to carry a gun openly or concealed without a government permit.

“The goal is to let (Idaho legislators) know that we want an open hearing on House Bill 422,” Idaho Second Amendment Alliance President Gregg Pruett said. The ISAA hosted the event and are strong supporters of the bill.

Bill 422 would allow permitless carry inside city limits in Idaho. Currently, Idaho has permitless carry in the counties, but not inside city limits. Pruett said the bill comes close to what the organization would like to see in Idaho and they want to see it go forward and be “tweaked” later.

The bill was drafted by state Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, and Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, in January. The two representatives worked with gun groups, sheriffs, lawyers and community leaders to draft the proposed legislation.

Two versions of proposed constitutional carry bill exist. Bill 422 not only allows permitless concealed carry in city limits, but also tweaks parts of Idaho’s current open carry law (House Bill 301), which was passed in 2015. The other version of the proposed legislation — Bill 423 — only deals with concealed carry restrictions in city limits and doesn’t touch Bill 301.

“The purpose of the bill is to clarify Idaho’s already existing open carry law,” Nate said. “We believe this bill will be heard and should be heard.”

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He said Bill 422 protects the Second Amendment and provides valuable fixes for Bill 301, which will make it more likely to pass — and likely this year.

Despite his optimism, though, many supporters of 422 are concerned things aren’t moving forward with the legislation, although other states like Maine were able to pass similar bills last year.

Bill 422 is still being debating in the House Ways and Means Committee.

“Basically, when it comes down to it, nothing is happening,” rally supporter John Henager said. “We want people to give more attention to the bill so the Legislature will give it more attention.”

Henager and other supporters said the bill is important because it upholds the constitutional right to bear arms and makes people safer. Vermont is often mentioned as support for the bill as it has one of the lowest violent crime rates in America and has fewer gun-control laws and allows constitutional carry.

The event included the march and several speakers, including Pruett and keynote speaker Gun Owners of America’s Larry Pratt. They spoke on the importance of gun laws in America and in Idaho.

“It’s good to band together,” Scott said. “But it’s not always the best way to get a bill passed.”

Scott, who helped draft the bill, said the best way for people to get involved and show their support is to get to know their representatives and build connections with them. Both Scott and Nate said the bill will be heard and that what can be done for the bill is being done.

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