01 Introduction and Research Tips



In doing background research for the PPG Idaho Firearm Rights Center, we found many lists, checklists, and summaries of Idaho laws. The problem was, none of them was really comprehensive – there was no one-stop-shop where you could find it all … at least, not organized in a more accessible way than just the complete official texts full of legal jargon. For instance, maybe one list had most of the laws related to hunting, but didn’t cover out-of-state hunters visiting Idaho, or Idaho hunters going elsewhere. Another might have had a complete list of restrictions to carrying concealed weapons, but no links to the source laws so you could check that the list was current.

And so, we sought to create a set of webpages that would be as comprehensive as we could find, both listing the laws and then reorganizing them according to what we expected to be sought-after topic categories. We hope you will find both approaches useful in their own ways for whatever your research purposes are.

What is written here involves a lot of selecting and summarizing, paraphrasing and emphasizing. We’ve done this to make legal research as convenient as possible. These resources are informational only – they are not meant to be taken as fully accurate legal interpretation, or to provide you with legal advice. Check the links to get the full legal text of Idaho gun rights and restrictions, or consult a lawyer.

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Overview of Sources of Idaho Laws on Firearms

There are four official Idaho legal sources that relate to gun rights and restrictions:

These are key sources for finding out about rights, rules, and restrictions for owning and using firearms in the state of Idaho. These websites are maintained by the state government, which, according to the Site Disclaimer, includes regular updates to ensure timeliness and accuracy. So, they provide primary documents for any research you want to do on current gun laws or changes over time. Most sections below give research tips designed to help you navigate the online document versions.

The producers of the PPG Idaho Firearm Rights Center have sought to find all current legal sources on firearms for Idaho citizens and guests. We have also tried to be as complete and as accurate as possible. If you find something we have missed, please let us know by using the comment form.

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Constitution of the State of Idaho

Idaho became a territory on July 4, 1863, and a state on July 3, 1890. The Constitution of the State of Idaho was approved that same day in 1890. It is the basic document that overviews those core rights granted to the state of Idaho and to its citizens. Several sections are relevant to gun owners’ rights.

CONSTITUTION RESEARCH. The Idaho state Constitution is designed to lay out legal principles of rights and restrictions on large categories. What it affirms, allows, and prohibits are usually stated in very broad terms. These govern the details of Executive Orders, administrative rules, and legislative statutes, leaving their development to various branches of government and their recording to other types of official documentation.

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Executive Orders

Executive Orders are issued by the Office of the Governor. They tend to deal with very limited issues or spheres of influence directly related to that office, such as advisory groups, task forces and boards, and the capitol.

EXECUTIVE ORDERS RESEARCH. The official webpage for Executive Orders contains Orders from the current year, plus an Archive from the year 2010 onward (see the sidebar on that home page). For earlier Orders, use the search function.

Current Executive Orders are available in individual PDF documents. Sets of orders from earlier years are available in monthly Idaho Administrative Bulletins, with an Archive that goes back to 1995. The Bulletins are numbered by year and month (for example, Volume 03-3 is March 2003), and there may be multiple volumes for a given month. They contain Executive Orders and changes in Administrative Code Rules (see section below). Also, it may be several months after an Executive Order is signed before it appears in a Bulletin.

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Idaho Administrative Code Rules

According to the Administrative Rules home page, the Idaho Administrative Code is “A compilation of all legally-promulgated administrative rules that are currently in effect and fully enforceable.” These govern the internal procedures for Idaho state government departments and divisions. There are currently two Idaho agencies with Rules related to firearms:

  • Department of Health and Welfare.
  • Division of Veteran Services.

ADMINISTRATIVE CODE RULES RESEARCH. A downloadable PDF document is available for each department or division, and it contains that unit’s specific code rules for the current year. There is also an Archive section on the Idaho Administrative Code home page, if you want to do historical research.

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Idaho Legislative Statutes

The Idaho Statutes consists of laws that govern aspects of day-to-day life in Idaho. They detail what is legal and illegal, the court system, corporations, public land use, taxes, etc. Numerous sections in the Idaho Statutes deal with firearm rules, rights, and restrictions.

It is important to understand the numbering system used in Statutes, in order to navigate the system easily. The numbering patterns used are:

For sections: Statute § Title (dash) Chapter/Section number

For subsections: Statute § Title (dash) Chapter/Section number plus (Subsection number)

The symbol printed as [§] stands for “section number.” Two in a row [§§] stands for “multiple sections,” and will be followed by several Section numbers. A subsection is a specific point of the law. Here are some examples:

Idaho Code Ann. § 18-3302F = Idaho Statutes Code, Title 18 [Crimes and Punishments], Chapter 33 [Firearms, Explosives and Other Deadly Weapons], Section 18-3302F (Prohibition of possession of certain weapons by a minor).

Idaho Code Ann. § 18-3316(1) = Idaho Statutes CodeTitle 18 [Crimes and Punishments], Chapter 33 [Firearms, Explosives and Other Deadly Devices], Section 18-3316 [Unlawful Possession of a Firearm], Subsection (1) [(1) A person who previously has been convicted of a felony who purchases, owns, possesses, or has under his custody or control any firearm shall be guilty of a felony and shall be imprisoned in the state prison for a period of time not to exceed five (5) years and by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000).].

STATUTES RESEARCH. The “archive” system for Idaho Statutes works differently from the other official sources. Each individual Statute contains its “History” at the bottom of the page. This gives

The Statute section number, what year it was added, and a cross-reference to that year’s official record book’s chapter, section, and page number.

If there have been changes since then, these amendments are noted by “am.” (the abbreviation used for amended”), and a cross-reference to that year’s official record book’s chapter, section, and page number.

Example: Title 18: Crimes and Punishments. Chapter 33 – Firearms, Explosives and Other Deadly Weapons. 18-3317. Unlawful discharge of a firearm at a dwelling house, occupied building, vehicle or mobile home. The history line appears below (emphasis added):

History: [18-3317, added 1993, ch. 254, sec. 1, p. 880; am. 2007, ch. 42, sec. 1, p. 104.]

If a Title or Chapter has been Repealed, the name of the Title or Chapter still appears in the table of contents list, but is noted in square brackets as [REPEALED] and there is no active link to the text.

Example: The table of contents page for Title 18: Crimes and Punishments, shows Chapter 12 – Billiard, Pool and Card Rooms and Confectionaries is [REPEALED].

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