State law vague on why officials exempted from concealed permits

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) -- The story about a state lawmaker who lost his concealed weapons permit for allegedly lying about a decades-old felony has raised questions about a 1990 law that exempts elected officials from needing a concealed weapons permit.

Last month, the Ada County Sheriff revoked the concealed weapons permit of Boise Republican Rep. Mark Patterson. The permit was pulled because Patterson failed to disclose in 2012 a guilty plea and withheld judgment from a 1974 Florida rape case.

A 2011 survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures showed no other state with such an exemption; most states exempt only peace officers, retired peace officers, military members, and in some cases, judges and prosecutors.

Our search on concealed weapons permits in the legislative library at the Idaho State Capitol failed to shed any light on why public officials in Idaho were exempted from concealed weapons permit requirements in the first place.

It just seems they always have been.

The original bill was written back in 1909. It only took up a single page. And in all of the records and documents that followed, leading up to the modern version of the concealed weapons bill, the only thing that really changed about officials being exempted was they inserted the word "elected".

The specific word "elected" was added in 1990; the stated purpose was simply to make things more uniform.

We called the Idaho Attorney General's Office, the Ada County Prosecutor, the Ada County Sheriff's Office, the Idaho Sheriff's Association, legislative leaders and the Andrus Center for Public Policy, but nobody could answer my question: why?

That exemption also extends to jail guards, criminal investigators with the AG's office or a prosecuting attorney's office as well as retired peace officers who meet specific training and years of service.

We know the concealed weapons permit law does not apply to publicly elected officials in Idaho, but the reason why may be lost in time.