Gov. Brad Little should get his veto pen ready with a couple of poor pieces of legislation.
First, after much debate, the Senate on Wednesday voted, 28-7, in favor of HB 206, a bill to allow 18- to 20-year-olds to carry concealed firearms within city limits without a permit in Idaho. The House-passed bill now goes to Little’s desk.
Because, under current law, 18- to 20-year-olds can already conceal-carry within city limits as long as they have completed the training necessary to obtain a concealed carry permit, what this bill essentially does is to eliminate the requirement to undergo training. We don’t think Idaho should get rid of training for young adults.
This editorial board is OK with 18- to 20-year-olds conceal carrying within city limits, but those young adults should first undergo proper training before they can do so.
You might argue that 18-year-olds are old enough to be drafted into the military, why can’t they also be treated as adults and be allowed to conceal carry? We will point out that those drafted into the military receive extensive training in firearms when they are given a weapon.
What we hope to avoid are accidental firearm discharges and hot-headed fights leading to someone pulling out a gun. We have all seen the research of the brain development of young adults, that most people don’t reach full brain maturity until the age of 25.
We think it’s disingenuous of the bill supporters to paint this as an either-or scenario: Either you pass this bill or young adults won’t be able to conceal carry in city limits, such as a young woman seeking to protect herself by carrying a handgun in her purse. To the contrary: A young woman can conceal carry a handgun in her purse right now — as long as she obtains a permit.
We are persuaded by the arguments of Boise Police Chief Bill Bones: “Our 18- to 20-year-olds … already have the right to carry those firearms, and they have the right to carry them concealed when they’re hunting, hiking,” Bones told senators. “They also have the right to obtain a concealed carry permit within the state, but to do so, they have to go through some training. And that’s what this is about. This is about giving 18-year-olds the ability to carry concealed in the areas where people are most concentrated … with no training, no evaluation for the readiness before we put that gun in the hands of an 18-year-old within our community.”
Even though it looks like a veto likely would be overturned, we urge Gov. Little to turn down this bad legislation.
The other bad piece of legislation is the voter initiative bill, aptly nicknamed the “Revenge on Voters Act,” making it much harder — some say impossible — to get a voter initiative on the ballot.
We’ve editorialized here before about why this is a bad idea and that it’s a solution in search of a problem.
Conservative Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, has rightly figured out that bill supporters’ call to “protect rural voters” is bogus. If anything, this bill will make it even harder for any rural voter to get an initiative on the ballot. Does Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, who vocally supported the bill on the grounds of protecting the rural voter, really think that increasing the percentage of voters to 10 percent in 32 of 35 legislative districts is going to help someone in Melba or Malad get something on the ballot? No, Giddings saw right though that: “It shifts the balance of power toward government by removing the ability to petition government for a redress of grievances, as stated in the First Amendment,” said Giddings, who isn’t even on the House State Affairs Committee that moved the bill ahead but came to the committee hearing to testify against the bill last week.
Gov. Little, who has spoken in the past of honoring the will of the people, should take notice that during last week’s committee hearing, 32 people testified against the bill, and only four testified in favor — one member of the public and three lobbyists for the Food Producers of Idaho, the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation and the Idaho Freedom Foundation.
Talk about the will of the people.
Little should honor the will of the people and veto this terrible legislation.