As lawmakers in Idaho discussed gun legislation, a grandfather brought his 11-year-old granddaughter with her AR-15 rifle to the Capitol to testify.
Charles Nielsen stood beside his granddaughter Bailey Nielsen, who had an AR-15 strapped to her shoulder, at a hearing before a House panel on Monday. He was there to support legislation that would permit visitors to the state to carry concealed handguns within the state’s city limits.
“Bailey is carrying a loaded AR-15,” her grandfather told a committee of lawmakers. “People live in fear, terrified of that which they do not understand. She’s been shooting since she was 5 years old. She got her first deer with this weapon at 9. She carries it responsibly.”
“She knows how not to put her finger on the trigger. We live in fear in a society that is fed fear on a daily basis,” he added, as Bailey stood beside him with the weapon, which is about half her size, dangling from her.
He said that if his granddaughter could responsibly handle weapons, that same right should also apply to nonresidents of the state who can legally possess firearms in other states.
“When they come to Idaho, they should be able to carry concealed, because they carry responsibly,” Nielsen said. “They’re law-abiding citizens. It’s the criminal we have to worry about.”
Rep. Christy Zito proposed the legislation to clear up confusion about rules that went into law last year. In Idaho, residents age 18 and older are allowed to carry a concealed handgun within city limits without a permit. Zito’s legislation would allow U.S. residents and members of the armed forces from out of state to be able to do the same.
The Republican lawmaker recounted how two men once approached her vehicle when she was inside with her daughter.
“I stand here before you today as a mother and grandmother who has had to use a firearm to defend their child,” she said. “Even though I didn’t have to pull the trigger, just the fact that they could see it, and they knew that I had it, was the determining factor.”
Most states do not allow people to carry concealed weapons without a permit or training. Diana David with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a gun control group, pushed back on the law and said that requiring a permit was “a commonsense policy.”
The committee voted to send the measure, which was opposed by three Democrats, to the full state House for a vote.
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