Idaho revisits gun exemption for lawmakers

Elected officials can carry concealed guns, permit or no

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BOISE, Idaho — A legislator whose concealed weapons permit was revoked for lying about a long-ago rape case can still legally carry hidden guns — because Idaho is the only state that exempts elected officials from the permit law.

The case of state Rep. Mark Patterson, R-Boise, is bringing new attention to the 1990 Idaho law providing the exemptions, and some Idaho lawmakers say it's time for a change.

"I have a philosophy that those of us in public office should be under the same laws as the general public," said state Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls.

Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d'Alene, said, "I think the message it sends is that elected officials get perks. And when it comes to the 2nd Amendment, I think that's particularly disturbing, because essentially, it's saying we should have more ability to protect ourselves than the average citizen."

Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, vice chairman of the House Judiciary Committee — on which Patterson serves — said he's not ready to do away with the elected-official exemption. "Certainly public officials can be targets in their own rights, especially in today's world," he said. But, he said, "I think it's something that we need to have a further look-see at."

Patterson is mulling an appeal of his permit revocation; the Idaho Statesman reported on Sunday that the Ada County Sheriff revoked his permit after discovering that he lied twice, in 2007 and 2012, on his permit application, which asked if he had ever had a withheld judgment for a felony offense. Patterson didn't disclose his 1974 guilty plea and withheld judgment for assault with intent to commit rape in a Florida case. He was acquitted in another, unrelated forcible rape case three years later.

The Idaho permit application asks, "Have you ever had an entry of a withheld judgment for a criminal offense which would disqualify you from obtaining a concealed weapons license?" Patterson twice answered no.

Patterson, in a written statement issued to two Boise TV stations late Sunday, accused Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney and Idaho Statesman reporter Dan Popkey of "a bare-knuckled campaign to intimidate me from serving the people of Idaho."

The first-year lawmaker, who unsuccessfully pushed legislation this year to criminalize cops who enforce new federal gun-restriction laws that might be enacted, says Raney is targeting him because of his legislation and because he scrutinized the Idaho Sheriffs Association's spending and policies.

"This whole thing is to silence me," Patterson told the Statesman.

Raney dismissed the idea. "The questions that Mr. Patterson raises and the allegations he makes are irrelevant to the fact that he lied on his initial application and his renewal application," the sheriff said.

"That and only that is the reason for our actions."