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Idaho Gun Control Laws

The national debate over gun control doesn't show any signs of slowing down anytime soon. Those opposed to new gun regulations point to the Second Amendment's acknowledgment of the right to bear arms. Those in favor of gun control raise issues of public safety in a world where firearms are prevalent in suicide and homicide cases, including mass shootings.

In recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted the Second Amendment as recognizing an individual's right to own or possess guns for purposes like self-defense. The Court went so far as to strike down a New York statute that gave discretion to authorities who "may issue" a concealed carry license when applicants could show good cause for needing to carry a concealed firearm. 

In New York Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen (2022), the Court held that state regulations that burden the constitutional right to bear arms must demonstrate they are consistent with traditional, historical regulations of firearms. They must be based on objective criteria.

Advocates on both sides can agree with the importance of firearm safety, but they take different approaches to reaching that goal. To that end, the Idaho Code reflects the emphasis of Idaho legislators who represent the state. Most observers rate Idaho firearm laws as less restrictive than other states.

Idaho Gun Laws

Federal firearms law applies in all 50 states. It makes it unlawful to transfer or possess a machine gun manufactured after 1986, with exceptions for the armed forces and state and local governments. Federal law sets up regulations for interstate commerce in firearms, including licensing and background checks. It provides categories of prohibited persons who cannot own or possess a firearm.

State gun control laws can also restrict what kind of guns people can purchase and who can purchase them. States can require the issuance of a permit for purchase or for a carry concealed weapon license. While the Second Amendment permits most citizens to keep and bear arms, certain deadly weapons and accessories are illegal under Idaho law. 

In general, gun owners must be 18 years of age and have no felony convictions on their record. Someone under 18 must have written permission from a parent or guardian to possess a firearm. Idaho does not impose a waiting period for firearm purchases. It does not ban assault weapons or ghost guns, those manufactured from a gun kit with no serial number.

Although Idaho law provides few restrictions on the carry of firearms in public or in motor vehicles, it does prohibit firearm possession in certain locations. These include:

  • Hotels, when the hotelkeeper chooses to prohibit
  • In or on the grounds of private or public elementary or secondary schools, on school transportation, or at school-sponsored activities
  • Courthouses
  • Juvenile detention facilities and jails
  • College dormitories or residence halls
  • Public entertainment facilities owned by public colleges and universities when signs are posted
  • State veterans' homes
  • Mental health clinics using Medicaid funding
  • Children's residential care facilities and therapeutic outdoor programs

In 2016, Idaho adopted a "permitless carry" law. This law provides that an otherwise law-abiding citizen of the United States who is not prohibited from possession of firearms can carry a concealed firearm throughout the state without a permit or license. A qualified retired law enforcement officer may also carry a concealed weapon. 

Although Idaho allows for permitless carry, it does maintain a process for issuing a concealed weapons license for purposes of reciprocity with other states. The Idaho State Police is the keeper of such agreements with other states. To apply for a license, you must contact your county sheriff. The Idaho Attorney General provides a helpful Q&A webpage to assist with inquiries. A state preemption law prohibits any local law of a city or county providing stricter regulations than the state.

The chart below highlights Idaho's gun control statutes (laws).

Relevant Statutes (Laws)

Idaho Statutes 18-3302: Concealed Weapons

Idaho Statutes 18-3316: Unlawful Possession of a Firearm

Idaho Statutes 18-3302E: Possession of a Weapon by a Minor

Idaho Statutes 18--3302F: Prohibition of Certain Weapons by a Minor

Idaho Statutes 18-3302D: Possessing Weapon or Firearm on School Property

Illegal Arms

Machine guns are illegal under federal law under most circumstances and must be registered with the ATF when legal. Under state law, anyone under 18 cannot possess a fully automatic weapon, a sawed-off shotgun, a sawed-off rifle, or a handgun, with limited exceptions.

Waiting Period

There is no waiting period to purchase or own a firearm in Idaho.

Who May Not Own

The following persons can't own a firearm in Idaho:

  • People with a felony conviction, unless nullified by expungement, pardon, set aside, or a restoration of rights under state law
  • Minors less than 18 years old without consent or accompaniment of parent or guardian
  • Anyone otherwise prohibited under federal law. (See 18 U.S.C. Section 922)

License Required?

No, you don't need a license to purchase a firearm in Idaho.

Concealed Carry License Required?

You are not required to obtain a concealed carry license in Idaho. If you meet the eligibility requirements and are a law-abiding citizen, you can carry concealed weapons without a permit.

Open Carried Allowed?

Yes, open carry is allowed without a license in Idaho.

Eligibility for a Concealed Carry License

Idaho offers a regular license and an enhanced license. You will NOT be eligible for either type of concealed weapon license (CWL) if you:

  • Are under 21 years old, although the state permits those 18-21 to obtain a CWL if they meet requirements for an enhanced CWL
  • Were charged or convicted with a crime punishable by a term exceeding one year
  • Have a misdemeanor conviction for intentionally using force or threatening to use force, unless you successfully complete probation
  • Are in the U.S illegally
  • Are a fugitive from justice
  • Unlawfully use marijuana or other controlled substances
  • Are mentally ill or gravelly disabled under the state laws
  • Were dishonorably discharged from the military
  • Are subject to a protection order
  • Renounced your U.S citizenship

To obtain a CWL, you must:

  • Present valid identification to the county sheriff
  • Submit your fingerprints
  • Regular CWL: demonstrate familiarity with the use of a firearm; may meet one of several approved methods, including completion of a firearm safety course sponsored by the National Rifle Association (NRA)
  • Enhanced CWL: complete specified eight-hour in-person training course which includes sections on Idaho laws, safe and responsible use of handguns, and live-fire training

Machine Gun Laws

  • You can own a machine gun in Idaho if you comply with federal law.
  • The state prohibits minors from possessing automatic weapons.

Penalties for Illegal Firearm Possession

  • Carrying a concealed weapon in violation of the law is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail; a fine of up to $1,000; or both.
  • Possessing a firearm after a felony conviction is a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison; a fine of up to $5000; or both.
  • Unlawful possession of a firearm by a minor is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail; a fine of up to $1,000; or both. If the weapon possessed by the minor is a fully automatic weapon, the crime becomes a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison; a fine of up to $50,000; or both.

Penalties for Illegal Possession on or Near School Grounds

Possession of a firearm on or near school grounds is a misdemeanor, punishable with up to one year in jail; a fine of up to $1,000; or both.

Red Flag Law?


Universal Background Checks?


Stand Your Ground Law?

Yes. The State of Idaho passed a Stand Your Ground law in 2018. In the use of self-defense, a person need not retreat from any place they have a right to be. The state permits a person to stand their ground and use all force and means that appear to be necessary to a reasonable person in a similar situation and with similar knowledge.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts that include federal decisions, ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the status of the state law(s) you are reviewing.

Related Resources for Gun Control Laws in Idaho

Have More Questions on Idaho Gun Control Laws? Ask An Attorney

State and federal gun control laws can be complex. If you have been injured by a firearm, you may have recourse against the manufacturer, distributor, or owner of the gun. If you are facing charges related to a gun crime, you should seek legal advice. Consider speaking to an Idaho attorney in your area.

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