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Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 2020 ‘State Right to Bear Arms in Idaho.’ Other Laws & Policies. San Francisco, CA: Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 5 December

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State Right to Bear Arms in Idaho

Article I, § 11 of the Idaho Constitution provides:

The people have the right to keep and bear arms, which right shall not be abridged; but this provision shall not prevent the passage of laws to govern the carrying of weapons concealed on the person nor prevent passage of legislation providing minimum sentences for crimes committed while in possession of a firearm, nor prevent the passage of legislation providing penalties for the possession of firearms by a convicted felon, nor prevent the passage of any legislation punishing the use of a firearm. No law shall impose licensure, registration or special taxation on the ownership or possession of firearms or ammunition. Nor shall any law permit the confiscation of firearms, except those actually used in the commission of a felony.

As originally adopted, the provision read: "The people have the right to bear arms for their security and defense; but the legislature shall regulate the exercise of this right by law." The provision was amended in 1978 to read as it now appears.

There is little case law interpreting the current version of article I, § 11. In State v. Grob, the Idaho Court of Appeals held that Idaho Code Ann. § 19-2520, which imposes an additional prison term for the commission of certain offenses while using a firearm, generally does not violate the state constitution.1 The case law examining the scope of the original version of article I, § 11 indicates that Idaho courts have treated the "right to keep and bear arms" as a personal, individual right, and held that the legislature has the authority to regulate the exercise of that right but may not prohibit or deny the right completely.

In State v. Woodward, the court discussed the ability to use a firearm for self-defense, and stated that under article I, § 11 (the original version), the right to bear arms may not be denied by the state, but the legislature has the power to regulate this right and may prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons or prescribe "the kind or character of arms that may or may not be kept, carried or used, and various other things of a regulatory character."

The Idaho Attorney General has opined that the current version of article I, § 11 does not: 1) "undermine the validity of the current Idaho Code prohibitions against the carrying of concealed weapons" under section 18-3302; or 2) affect the viability of state law on the seizure of firearms during searches incident to arrest…

[Editor's note: The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence regularly updates its webpages with new data as US gun regulation evolves state by state. For the most up-to-date information on US gun laws, please refer to the Giffords URL below]

ID: Q8232

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