Guns remain an essential piece of our heritage, our values, and our future. The right to keep and bear arms is protected in the U.S. and Idaho Constitutions – a right as important as freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to assemble peaceably, property rights, and the right to swift and fair justice.
How do we ensure this right will be protected and flourish? We must ensure that our children can embrace the Idaho and American tradition of hunting, shooting sports, and reverence for firearms rights. We must provide them with opportunities to safely practice and develop skill and familiarity with firearms for them to become advocates.
Building the Next Generation of Advocates for Firearms Rights
Reverence for the Second Amendment is strong in our State, and our laws reflect the importance of firearms to our citizens. Idaho has also taken steps to provide our kids firearms education and skill-building opportunities. The 2018 Legislature passed a law that allows Idaho School Districts to offer elective courses on firearms safety, and to authorize instructors
for the course. Idaho kids can start hunting at age 10, after they pass a hunter education course. The courses cover firearm handling and safety, hunting ethics, survival skills, hunting techniques, wildlife identification and care. Idaho’s 4-H “Shooting Sports” programs, taught by certified instructors, offer kids between 8-18 a wide variety of options, including
archery, handguns, muzzleloaders, rifles and shotguns. It’s been exciting to see the big increases in these projects at both the Latah and Benewah County Fairs.
Idaho’s hunters and recreational shooters, young and old, must have safe places to practice in order to remain proficient.
The 2019 “Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act,” sponsored by Idaho’s Senator Jim Risch, gives states an additional incentive to fund range development, leveraging existing Pitman Robertson funds.
Last year, I carried House Bill 396, securing a way for Idaho to build on Senator Risch’s shooting range law. It establishes that public shooting ranges are an appropriate use for state-owned land. It requires that the Idaho Fish and Game help counties, cities, recreation districts, non-profit clubs or associations to locate or relocate shooting ranges. Perhaps most importantly, HB 396 creates a new Public Range Fund committee, comprised of active recreational shooters from across the state, to advise on the distribution of over half a million dollars a year to Idaho shooting ranges—money that comes back to the state from Federal excise taxes on the sales of handguns and ammunition as well as fines and forfeitures derived from fish and game violations. The legislation doesn’t raise any taxes, fines or fees but leverages existing dollars.
By providing educational programs and shooting opportunities, Idaho is well on our way to building the next generation of Second Amendment supporters!