BOISE — A freshman Idaho lawmaker, who introduced a controversial guns-in-schools bill Tuesday, is speaking out against a Boise restaurant after he and fellow members of the Three Percenters group were chided for open-carrying guns there.
Rep. Chad Christensen, R-Ammon, said he was in a group of five people eating at Bacon when owner John Berryhill told them their firearms were making customers and staff nervous, according to his Facebook post Saturday. He said Berryhill then closed a curtain around their booth.
Berryhill told CBS 2 News Christensen’s account is exaggerated. In a statement to CBS 2, Berryhill said he’s not against guns or even open carry, with the exception of being in populated areas, such as restaurants, libraries and parks.
In his post, Christensen said, “I won’t be stepping foot in that place again. Pass this around patriots.”
Christensen acknowledged to CBS 2 that he is essentially calling for a boycott of the restaurant. He added in his Facebook post that he would use his “reach” to call out any other business owners who “have a problem with guns in Idaho.”
Boise police spokeswoman Haley Williams told the Idaho Press that private businesses can refuse service to patrons carrying firearms. While Idaho allows open carry of firearms, the law does not apply to private property, the owners of which can make their own rules, she said.
“You can ask them to leave,” she said. “You can set the rules for their establishment.”
Members of the Idaho State Legislature’s Ethics Committee, which met Tuesday for separate purposes, declined to comment on the matter of a lawmaker threatening to use their platform as a mechanism to call for boycott of businesses.
However, Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, told the Idaho Press that Idaho lawmakers are citizens who do not give up their individual right to free speech when they take office.
Christensen’s guns-in-schools bill was introduced to the House State Affairs Committee Tuesday morning on a divided vote, with opponents spilling out into the hallway. The bill would allow people with an enhanced permit would be able to carry a concealed handgun at public schools without having to alert school officials.Xavier Ward covers Ada County for The Idaho Press. You can follow him on Twitter at @XavierAWard.