Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Gun bans in Idaho - WTF

Yea it is a completely foreign experience for me but apparently Mayor Nancy Chaney is considering banning weapons (open or concealed) in public places in Moscow Idaho.

Should note that "public places" is legally defined by all government funded properties, roads and sidewalks included. Some define "public places" as any establishment open to the public. This would include stores and restaurants.

Moscow exploring public gun ban

Mayor Chaney says rash of shooting deaths has led the city to look into its ability to limit arms at public venues

MOSCOW - No guns have apparently been packed into city council meetings here or carried within city buildings or parks, officials said Tuesday.

Nonetheless, Mayor Nancy Chaney said she's asked for a legal opinion on whether the city has authority to prohibit both concealed and exposed weapons in public places.

"We don't want to tread on anyone's Second Amendment rights," Chaney said. "We want to find out what is within our legal prerogative."

City Supervisor Gary Riedner said City Attorney Randy Fife has been asked to seek the opinion from the office of the Idaho attorney general before any additional action is taken. As it stands now, Riedner said, everyone attending a city council meeting could bring an exposed rifle, shotgun or handgun.

"Unless there's authority to restrict it, under state law you can carry an exposed gun," Riedner said. Concealed weapons may also be carried as long as the carrier has a permit issued through the sheriff's office. Idaho also recognizes concealed weapons permits from other states.

Idaho, in fact, is one of the more liberal states when it comes to gun restrictions, said Latah County Prosecutor William Thompson Jr. While guns are prohibited by judicial order at the county courthouse here, Thompson said there are no such prohibitions on other county property. The discharge of a weapon on county property, however, is prohibited, Thompson said. Brandishing a weapon in a threatening manner, such as pointing it at someone, is illegal everywhere unless the act is in self- defense, he added.

District court judges, Thompson said, have authority to regulate what goes on within a courthouse and can prohibit weapons. Former District Court Judge John Bengtson declared the prohibition at the Latah County Courthouse.

Chaney said her concern on city property, in part, stems from the rash of shooting deaths in Latah County over the past five months. She said the May shooting at the courthouse, which resulted in three deaths - including a Moscow police officer - gave her pause about how vulnerable people are in public settings.

She also expressed concern about a trend in some circles to glorify weapons, to the point of armed citizens being encouraged to "swoop in to protect people" during confrontations that should be handled by police.

While firearms are prohibited in schools by state law, in federal buildings by federal law and in county courthouses by judicial order, the city has no obvious authority to invoke such protection, Riedner said.

Once a legal opinion is received from the state, said Chaney, the matter will make its way to members of the city council for eventual consideration of a resolution or ordinance banning or restricting firearms on city property.

I live in Idaho. Idaho is one of the most gun free States in the Union. Our Constitution sets strict gun rights. We in Idaho do have to have a permit to concealed carry, but we can open carry anywhere except limited by Federal laws (Schools, courts, jails, airports, etc).

We have no bans on types of weapons except those listed as "destructive devices", and even those you can get with the right Federal permits.

From Idaho Code we find:

50-343. REGULATION OF FIREARMS -- CONTROL BY STATE. No city may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession or transportation of firearms when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of the state of Idaho.

This means that by Idaho Code the State laws have preemption over the city laws as far as firearms regulation goes. The cities cannot regulate firearms over State laws.

So now we have in Idaho a city that is going off the reservation. I am not happy. You can bet that I'll be on the front lines for this one.


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