Confusion over Idaho law

I received an email from Frank G. in Spokane today. He was confused by something he read in the Spokesman-Review (Spokane Washington) newspaper. The Spokesman-Review says:

The Idaho Senate has spiked legislation that would have expanded the list of the worst kind of felons banned from owning firearms.

Senate lawmakers voted 29-6 on Friday to reject including terrorists, criminal gang members, human trafficking and felony riot convictions as qualifiers to lose one’s right to own firearms.

Frank asked:

I don’t know a LOT about gun laws, but I’m pretty certain that federal law prohibits all convicted felons from owning firearms. It doesn’t matter if they were convicted of murder or embezzlement. Felony conviction? No guns for you.

So, is the idea that “the worst kind of felons … terrorists, criminal gang members [and people convicted of] human trafficking and felony riot” would be SUPER DUPER prohibited persons?

The confusion is because under Idaho law a convicted felony who as served there sentence may own a gun unless they have committed certain types of felonies. Basically non-violent crimes, such as embezzlement, do not put you on the Idaho “no guns for life” list. But under Federal law you could be convicted of using the wrong packaging for shipping shellfish and end up prohibited of possessing firearms for life.

Here is the Idaho law.*

The legislature was attempting to add terrorism, arson, theft by extortion, human trafficking, felony riot, hijacking, racketeering, and supplying firearms to a criminal gang as bars to further firearm possession. It failed, as Frank pointed out, in the Senate 29-6.

The question one would ask is, “With Federal law prohibiting all felons from firearms possession how does Idaho restoring firearms rights after completion of their sentence help anyone?”

Perhaps some lawyers can answer this better than I can, but I would say it means these people have to get the attention of a Federal Prosecutor who probably has “bigger fish to fry” then some little old lady who embezzled a few thousand dollars a decade ago who now wants to defend herself in her home with the gun her husband left in the dresser draw when he died.

I would like to suggest it might be a “good first step” to get changes in Federal such that it is similar to Idaho law. It’s just common sense.


* Note, that except for things like murder, after five years a person convicted of other things including counterfeiting, unlawful possession of destructive devices, rape, and kidnapping, may apply to the commission of pardons to get their firearms rights restored.

6 thoughts on “Confusion over Idaho law

  1. Thanks for publishing my Qs.

    Another couple Qs (for any lawyers who read this):

    1. If an ID resident DID have his civil rights to bear arms restored, how would he obtain a gun? I’m guessing that an FFL would be out (what with the 4473 and all that), so that would have to be via private sale, no?

    2. If he obtains his firearms through private sale (or via other non-FFL means, e.g., inheritance), wouldn’t he and the person who sold / gave him the gun be in violation of the Federal prohibited persons law? Or does that ONLY apply to purchases thru FFLs?

    Thx in advance …

  2. ATF Form 4473 (5300.9) Part I
    Revised April 2012
    EXCEPTION to 11.c. and 11.i.:
    A person who has been convicted of a felony, or any other crime, for which the judge could have imprisoned the person for more than one year, or who has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, is not prohibited from purchasing, receiving, or possessing a firearm if: (1) under the law of
    the jurisdiction where the conviction occurred, the person has been pardoned, the
    conviction has been expunged or set aside, or the person has had their civil rights
    (the right to vote, sit on a jury, and hold public office) taken away and later
    restored AND (2) the person is not prohibited by the law of the jurisdiction where
    the conviction occurred from receiving or possessing firearms. Persons
    subject to this exception should answer “no”
    to 11.c. or 11.i., as applicable.

  3. Poorly writen legislation again.

    In order to carry out the intent under federal law burdens, they should have required a pardon and record sealing after X number of years for certain non-violent felons, something similar to Alaska state statute.

  4. This bill would have amended section 18-310, Idaho Code to add to the list of offenses for which someone’s firearm rights are NOT restored after completion of sentence. The default is restoration, please note. Until about 30 years ago almost any felon (except murder and treason) would have their rights restored under 18-310. Montana still does something similar. The legislature in Idaho has added all sorts of felonies to the ” bad” list. If the offense is on the bad list then the offender has to wait 5 years and then apply to pardons and parole for restoration. I’m not sure they even grant any of those- we haven’t been able to get statistics from them.

    A person whose rights have been restored under state law can purchase and own firearms just like anybody else . Per 18 USC 921(20) they are not considered to have been convicted.

  5. I’m of the mind that a person shouldn’t lose their rights permanently for a non-violent felony. Even at the federal level. No one has yet been able to convince me that a convicted felon like Martha Stewart is such a danger to society that she should never be allowed to touch a firearm for the rest of her life.

    • Of course. This is all part of the same “take away rights incrementally” approach. First felons, then people convicted of selected misdemeanors, then people accused of certain crimes, then people alleged listed on a secret government list, then …

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