The Idaho Second Amendment Alliance (ISAA) and Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF) have for weeks been detailing the varying costs of Concealed Weapons Permits across the State of Idaho. The ISAA has long held that CWPs are simply a revenue stream for counties. What better way to implement gun control and pad the budget than to charge Idaho citizens to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights? The ISAA and IFF did a project together that detailed the permit prices across the state which ranged from $62 all the way up to $115. That video can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYa98YDxQV8
More recently Rep. Heather Scott, House Bill 89 (Constitutional Carry) sponsor, requested more information from the Attorney General’s office on what money can be brought in by the sheriff, what is to be done with additional fees collected, and if the sheriff has any obligation to lower fees if he is taking in too much money. The law seemed clear to the ISAA but the letter from the AG’s office seemed to solidify our understanding of the law.
The letter from the AG to Rep. Scott can be found here at the Idaho Reporter as well as their take on the issue: http://idahoreporter.com/37850/scott-examining-state-law-governing-concealed-weapons-permits/
In summary, the AG’s office explained that the sheriff may not charge more than is required to do the permitting process itself. They may collect actual costs of the permitting process and nothing more. Any additional money must be retained for the purposes outline in Idaho Code 18-3302. Any additional money must be turned over to the county treasurer and held for those purposes only. The money may not be spent on other items for the county. Under the old code they did not have to retain the money but were still not supposed to charge more than was necessary to cover the cost of the permitting system itself.
That brings us to the current situation in Madison County. The ISAA received documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Request several months ago. These bank documents show detailed records of CWP deposits in Madison County, Idaho. We studied these documents for several months and what we found will shock Idaho citizens. It will anger Idaho citizens. What we found is unacceptable and further information needs to be asked of Madison County on their expenditures.
In all, Madison County spent over $60,000 on items that were not related to the CWP process but which money was collected by taxing Idaho gun owners in Madison County. This appears to be money spent in violation of Idaho law. Using the AG’s own letter it would be clear that these items were purchased out of line with the law set forth in Idaho code 18-3302. What did they purchase?
The following items were purchased using CWP money:
Bark for Range Backstop: $750
Employee Identification Card Printer: $4,777.55
NRA Instructor Training: $1,190
NRA Instructor Training: $450
Office Security Control and Cards: $2,200
While these items were not spent for personal reasons and while they may even be items that the county needed, they used the wrong money. They were charging citizens who exercise their 2nd Amendment rights to buy these items. At one point a special bank account for Madison County CWP deposits was set up and had over $30,000 sitting in it. While extra money from CWPs is supposed to be saved, the AG’s letter also made it clear that the sheriff should decrease the funds if the costs are lower than the fees they are charging. That has not been the case in Madison County.
This is a serious misuse of public funds in our opinion and one of the primary reasons the ISAA has been fighting so hard for Permitless Carry. Under Permitless Carry anyone who doesn’t want to pay a tax to exercise their 2nd Amendment right does not have to. That is not the case currently. Our long held belief that permits are a great revenue stream for counties has proven to be the case in Madison County. What does that say about Teton County which is currently at $115? Someone needs to look into these counties and find out if this is a systemic issue or limited to just Madison County.
The time for Permitless Carry is now! The 2016 Idaho Legislative Session must be the time for our “gun loving” legislators to finally put their money where their mouths are. Gun owners should not be footing the bill for the county budgets. Pass Permitless Carry and help bring Idaho more in line with the true meaning of the 2nd Amendment which states that your right to keep and “bear” arms “shall not be infringed.”