House Bill 475 has passed through the House Transportation and Defense Committee and will head to the full House.
The Idaho Army National Guard is bringing the bill forward. When the bill was presented by Maj. Steve Stokes from the IDARNG, said the bill was part of Gov. Brad Little’s efforts to reduce unnecessary regulations and laws.
Here is how the Statement of Purpose as defined by HB 475:
This proposal is to eliminate Idaho Code Section 46-802 entirely. Currently Idaho Code Section 46-802 makes it illegal for a “body of men” to “associate together as a military company or organization” or “parade in public with firearms in any city or town of this state” unless they’re “called into service of the state.” The restrictions in this code section are antiquated and are clear violations of the First and Second Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Sections 9, 10, and 11 of the Idaho Constitution. The proposed change will eliminate this statute entirely.
Stokes said during his opening testimony that the banning of private militias is already covered in another part of Idaho code. Additionally, he stated that the code was unenforceable because no mechanism exists in the code to punish those who violate it.
Several organizations spoke out for and against the bill today and online.
Moms Demand Action opposed the bill. One of their members testified before the committee and said in part,
Open carry, the act of carrying firearms visibly in public, is a dangerous policy that is exploited by white supremacists and opposed by law enforcement and the public.
Testifiers against the bill said that repealing the law would make Idaho more dangerous and let armed citizens patrol the streets. In addition, most said that the bill would allow private militias to organize and scare Idaho citizens.
The mayor of Sandpoint and a Democrat gubernatorial candidate, Shelby Rognstad, spoke against the bill. Here are a few of the statements from Rognstad’s testimony which is not his entire testimony, but portions of it that we were able to gather:
As a mayor, I invite you to vote against 475. It invites private militia who have no accountability to civil authority. They answer to no one.
I fully support our local sheriffs, our police departments, and the Idaho National Guard to protect and serve Idaho. We must respect the chain of command, which does not exist under private militias.
Militias must be accountable and subordinated to civil authority. I urge you to please vote against House Bill 475 and I’m happy to answer any questions, if you have any.
The Idaho 97% has also come out opposed to the legislation.
Stokes closed his presentation of the bill, stating,
I would just urge you to review the material that you’ve been provided. The other aspects of Idaho law, including 18-8103 of the Idaho Constitution, and make a sound judgement based on your conscience.
The Idaho Second Amendment Alliance told the committee through email that the organization favored HB 475 and asked the committee to send the bill to the floor with a “do pass” recommendation.
After debate, the bill was passed on a vote of 13-4, with Rep. Scott Syme (R-Middleton) being the lone Republican to vote against the bill.
Disclosure Note: Greg Pruett is the current President of the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance.
Tags: HB 475, Idaho 97%, Idaho Army National Guard, Idaho Second Amendment Alliance, Major Steve Stokes, Moms Demand Action, Scott Syme, Shelby Rognstad, Transportation and Defense