- Associated Press - Thursday, February 6, 2014

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Lawmakers are aiming to close a loophole in Idaho’s gun laws that emerged following a dispute that erupted last year when former Republican Rep. Mark Patterson was allowed to carry a concealed weapon even after his permit was revoked.

Rep. Rick Youngblood, R-Nampa, told House State Affairs Committee members Thursday getting rid of an exemption that allows all Idaho elected officials carry concealed weapons without a permit would hold officials to the same standard as voters.

Youngblood, who has a concealed carry permit, said removing the exemption for elected officials would even the playing field. “Why should (officials) be exempt when our citizens are not?” he said.

The rule came under scrutiny when Patterson’s concealed-carry permit was revoked in Ada County for not disclosing on his application he’d pleaded guilty to assault with intent to commit rape in 1974.

Because of the elected-official exemption, however, Patterson, R-Boise, was allowed to carry a concealed weapon while he remained in office.

He quit in January, amid pressure to step down from constituents and his Republican colleagues.

The bill is likely to find support; House Speaker Scott Bedke is the co-sponsor along with Youngblood.

“I wouldn’t have taken the effort if I didn’t believe it was going to pass,” Youngblood said.

Rep. Patrick McDonald, who took over Patterson’s slot after his resignation, said he thinks Youngblood’s bill is a good idea.

“I think elected officials should adhere to the law that applies to every citizen in the state,” McDonald said “It might have been a good law when they passed it, but it seems to me it discriminates if they say elected officials don’t need a permit, but citizens do.”

Idaho is currently the only state with such a provision.

Dumping it may come with a fight, however.

Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Springs, expressed reservations during Thursday’s hearing, arguing newly-elected officials looking for immediate protection would be forced to wait for a concealed carry application to be processed before they could legally tote a gun.

And Rep. Lenore Barrett, a Republican from Challis and staunch gun rights supporter, also plans to oppose the bill. Barrett was famously ticketed in the Boise Airport in 2001 when she attempted to bring a handgun through security in her purse.

At the time, she told authorities, she didn’t think the loaded .22-caliber Derringer-style single-shot pistol - found along with 56 rounds of various types of live ammunition - was inside her handbag.

These days, Barrett said, she doesn’t typically haul around her weapon with her.

Still, she doesn’t think lawmakers like her who have been carrying for years should have to go through the process to apply for a permit.

“I don’t think I ought to have to do that,” she said. “Mainly because you get fingerprinted and I resent that. When I haven’t committed a crime, I’m not giving them my fingerprints. It’s unnecessarily cumbersome for honest people, and the bad guys are going to get them anyway.”

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