Treasure Valley residents rally to make Idaho more gun friendly

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Samuel Wonacott

Gun rights advocates from around the Treasure Valley and beyond gathered on the steps of the Idaho State Capitol Building on a blustery afternoon on Saturday, Feb. 24 in support of new gun legislation—including the Castle Doctrine—being considered by the Idaho legislature. A crowd of about 200 participants—many of them sporting firearms—listened to Greg Pruitt, director of the Idaho 2nd Amendment Alliance (I2AA), and Christy Zito, State Representative of District 23, emphasize the importance of making Idaho more gun-friendly. 

“We are sick and tired of politicians paying lip service to the 2nd Amendment,” Pruitt told the crowd. 

At issue are two bills the ISAA—a grassroots gun-rights organization founded by Pruitt in 2012—hopes to bring attention to in the Idaho Legislature—one dealing with the “Castle Doctrine” and the other dealing with the residency requirement for permitless carry. 

The Castle Doctrine, introduced in a bill by Representative Zito, would modify existing law to shift the burden of proof from homeowners to criminals in cases involving deadly force with a firearm.

The other bill, introduced by Representative Karey Hanks of Idaho’s 35th District, seeks to overturn the residency requirement for permitless carry, which became law in 2016. Also known as “Constitutional Carry,” the law allows Idaho residents to conceal carry handguns without applying for a permit through the Sheriff’s office. However, the law still prohibits residents from other states from concealed carrying within Idaho city limits without a state-issued permit.

Both bills need cosponsors to move forward in the House. 

“We’re going to keep going until Idaho is the most pro-2nd Amendment state in the country,” Pruitt said. 

Representative Zito told the crowd that her support for the Castle Doctrine stems from an incident some years ago when she was forced to brandish a firearm to defend herself and her 11 year-old daughter. Two men, she said, ran her truck off the road and attempted to enter her vehicle.

“I locked the doors and held up my gun, and he knew that if he tried to open that door, that would be the last thing he ever did,” Zito said. 

Kyler Waddell, a student at BYU-Idaho, showed up at the rally in hopes of the Castle Doctrine becoming law. 

“I feel like, if your life is in danger or if they’re even harming your property at all, if you feel the need, you should be able protect your house and yourself,” Waddell said. 

The rally drew people of all ages, including families with children and high school students. Zion Nichols, a student at Middleton High School, disagreed that people from other states should be barred from concealed carrying in Idaho cities without a permit.

“It’s ridiculous that, just because the city limits are here, that doesn’t make an invisible wall that you can’t conceal carry a weapon,” Nichols said. 

Jason Dovel, a construction management major, said he grew up in California and use to feel uncomfortable around guns. These days, however, he not only wears a handgun on his side as often as he can but also fights against legislation that would infringe on the 2nd Amendment. 

“I’m an active member of the Ada County militia, and I support all the 2nd Amendment legislation we can get through,” he said. 

Dovel finds it disappointing that more students aren’t involved in gun issues.

“If you’re on the fence about the 2nd Amendment, that means you’re on the fence about the Constitution,” said Dovel. “You either let it go and people are going to trample all over the 2nd Amendment, or you stand up and do something about it. Either way, you’re getting what you want by your actions.”

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