En Español
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or (TTY) 1-800-787-3224

Know the Laws: Idaho

UPDATED July 16, 2017

View by Section

Below is information about state gun laws in Idaho.  However, in addition to these state-specific laws, there are also federal gun laws that could apply.  To fully understand all of the legal protections available, it is important that you also read the Federal Gun Laws pages.

WomensLaw.org strongly recommends that you get in touch with a domestic violence advocate or lawyer in your community for more information on gun laws in your area.  To find an agency, please go to the ID Where to Find Help page.

Basic Info

back to topWhat is the difference between federal and state gun laws?

In these gun laws pages, we refer to both "federal gun laws" and "state gun laws."  The major difference between the two has to do with who makes the law, who prosecutes someone who violates the law, and what the penalty is for breaking the law.

One reason why it is important for you to know that there are these two sets of gun laws is so that you can understand all of the possible ways that the abuser might be breaking the law, and you can better protect yourself.  Throughout this section, we will be referring mostly to state laws.  Be sure to also read our Federal Gun Laws pages to see if any federal laws apply to your situation as well.  You will need to read both state and federal laws to see which ones, if any, the abuser might be violating.

If you are calling the police because you believe the abuser has violated a gun law, you do not necessarily need to be able to tell the police which law was violated (state versus federal) but local police cannot arrest someone for violating federal law, only for violating state/local laws.  Only federal law enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (“ATF”), can arrest someone for violating federal laws.  If the local police believe that a state law is being violated, they could arrest the abuser and hand the case over to the state prosecutor.  If the local police believe a federal law is being violated, hopefully, the police department will notify the ATF or perhaps the U.S. Attorney’s office in your state (which is the federal prosecutor).  For information on how you can contact ATF directly to report the violation of federal gun laws, go to Who do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun?  If the abuser is breaking both state and federal laws, s/he might be prosecuted in both state and federal court.

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWhat is the definition of a felony?

Under Idaho state law, a felony is any crime that can be punished by death or by imprisonment in a state prison.*

* ID Code § 18-111

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topI am a victim of domestic violence and the abuser has a gun. Is that legal?

According to Idaho state law, anyone who meets any of the following cannot get a license to carry concealed weapons

  • is under age twenty-one (although there are exceptions in the law regarding people age 18 - 21);
  • is currently formally charged with a felony crime;
  • has been found guilty in any court of a felony crime;
  • is a fugitive from justice;
  • is an unlawful user of marijuana or any depressant, stimulant or narcotic drug, or other controlled substance;
  • is currently suffering from (or has been adjudicated as having suffered from) any of the following conditions:
    • lacks mental capacity;
    • is mentally ill;
    • is gravely disabled; or
    • is an incapacitated person;
  • has been discharged from the armed forces under dishonorable conditions;
  • has received a withheld judgment or suspended sentence for a felony crime (unless the person has successfully completed probation);
  • has received a period of probation after having been adjudicated guilty of, or received a withheld judgment for, a misdemeanor offense that has as an element the intentional use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another (unless the person has successfully completed probation);
  • is an "alien" illegally in the United States;
  • was a citizen of the United States but has renounced his/her citizenship;
  • is free on bond or personal recognizance pending trial, appeal or sentencing for a crime which would disqualify him/her from obtaining a concealed weapons license;
  • is subject to a domestic violence protection order that restrains him/her from harassing, stalking or threatening an intimate partner, his/her own child, or a child of the intimate partner; or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or a child; or
  • is for any other reason ineligible to own, possess or receive a firearm under Idaho law or federal law.*

In addition, Idaho law says that anyone convicted of any of the following felony crimes permanently loses his/her right to "ship, transport, possess or receive" a firearm: aggravated assault; aggravated battery; assault with intent to commit a serious felony; battery with intent to commit a serious felony; burglary; crime against nature; felony domestic battery; felony enticing of children; forcible sexual penetration by use of a foreign object; felony indecent exposure; felony injury to child; felony intimidating a witness; lewd conduct with a minor or child under sixteen; sexual abuse of a child under sixteen; sexual exploitation of a child; felonious rescuing prisoners; escape by one charged with, convicted of or on probation for a felony; unlawful possession of a firearm; degrees of murder; voluntary manslaughter; assault with intent to murder; administering poison with intent to kill; kidnapping; mayhem; rape; robbery; ritualized abuse of a child; cannibalism; felonious manufacture, delivery or possession with the intent to manufacture or deliver, or possession of a controlled or counterfeit substance; trafficking; felony threats against state officials of the executive, legislative or judicial branch; unlawful discharge of a firearm at a dwelling house, occupied building, vehicle or mobile home; unlawful possession of destructive devices; unlawful use of destructive device or bomb; or attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation, to commit any of the above-mentioned crimes.** 

If any of these situations apply to the abuser, it may be illegal for him/her to have a gun.  Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict an abuser's right to have a gun if you have a restraining order against him/her that meets certain requirements or if s/he has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor.  Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.

* ID Code § 18-3302(11)
** ID Code § 18-310(2)

Did you find this information helpful?

Guns and Protection Orders

back to topI have an ex parte temporary order against the abuser. Do I have to wait until I receive a final order before the abuser's gun is taken away?

Maybe. If the judge gave you an ex parte temporary order (which means that no advance notice was given to the abuser), which is commonly done, it could still be LEGAL for him/her to have a gun under federal law.  However, if the judge scheduled a court hearing and gave notice of the hearing to the abuser before giving you the temporary order, it is possible that it is ILLEGAL for him/her to have a gun under federal law.  The order of protection must also meet certain other requirements, though. Read I have a protection order against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun? to find out more.

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topI have a protection order against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun?

Under Idaho state law, anyone who has a domestic violence protection order against him/her cannot get a license to carry concealed weapons.  The law clarifies that the protection order must restrain him/her from harassing, stalking or threatening an intimate partner, his/her own child, or a child of the intimate partner; or restrain him/her from engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or a child.*

Federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict an abuser's right to have a gun if you have a protection order against him/her that meets certain requirements even if the judge does not specifically include on the order that s/he cannot have a gun.  Go to the Federal Gun Laws page to get more information.

* ID Code § 18-3302(11)(m)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topIs there anything I can do to make it more likely that the abuser's gun is taken away when I get a protection order?

Here are a few things that may help:

  • If the abuser has a gun, tell the judge how many guns s/he has, and if s/he has ever threatened you with a gun(s); and
  • Ask the judge to specifically write in your protection order that the abuser cannot own, buy or have a gun while the order is in effect (although this may not be something that the judge will do under Idaho laws).

It also may be helpful if the judge explains what will happen to the abuser's guns, who will take them, and where they will be held once you leave the courthouse based on the federal law prohibition against possessing guns when a final protection order is in place. If the judge agrees to add language that the abuser cannot keep his/her guns while the protection order is in effect, you may also want to ask that the judge:

  • Require the abuser to give his/her guns to the police, or require the police to go to the abuser's house and get them;
  • Make it clear to both you and the abuser how long the guns will be kept away from the abuser; and
  • Order that the police notify you when the guns are returned to the abuser.

Did you find this information helpful?

Guns and Criminal Convictions

back to topHow can I find out if the abuser has been convicted of a crime?

Misdemeanor and felony records are open to the public, but they are not always easy to access.  If you know the exact courthouse where the abuser may have been convicted, you can go to the courthouse and ask the clerk of court for access to those records.

Federal law specifically prohibits possession of a firearm if the person is convicted of any felony or of a domestic violence misdemeanor. Criminal records that would make a person ineligible to purchase a firearm are also kept in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).  However, no one other than law enforcement officials and licensed firearm sellers are allowed to search the NICS.  Your local police department may be willing to search NICS for you if you ask, but they are not required to do so.

To read more about the NICS, please see the question, What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topIf the abuser has been convicted of a crime, can s/he keep or buy a gun?

According to Idaho state law, people convicted of various crimes cannot get a license to carry concealed weapons and will lose the right to possess a firearm.  

Anyone who meets any of the following cannot get a license to carry concealed weapons

  • is currently formally charged with a felony crime;
  • has been found guilty in any court of a felony crime;
  • is a fugitive from justice;
  • has received a withheld judgment or suspended sentence for a felony crime (unless the person has successfully completed probation);
  • has received a period of probation after having been adjudicated guilty of, or received a withheld judgment for, a misdemeanor offense that has as an element the intentional use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another (unless the person has successfully completed probation); or
  • is free on bond or personal recognizance pending trial, appeal or sentencing for a crime which would disqualify him/her from obtaining a concealed weapons license.*

In addition, Idaho law says that anyone convicted of any of the following felony crimes permanently loses his/her right to "ship, transport, possess or receive" a firearm: aggravated assault; aggravated battery; assault with intent to commit a serious felony; battery with intent to commit a serious felony; burglary; crime against nature; felony domestic battery; felony enticing of children; forcible sexual penetration by use of a foreign object; felony indecent exposure; felony injury to child; felony intimidating a witness; lewd conduct with a minor or child under sixteen; sexual abuse of a child under sixteen; sexual exploitation of a child; felonious rescuing prisoners; escape by one charged with, convicted of or on probation for a felony; unlawful possession of a firearm; degrees of murder; voluntary manslaughter; assault with intent to murder; administering poison with intent to kill; kidnapping; mayhem; rape; robbery; ritualized abuse of a child; cannibalism; felonious manufacture, delivery or possession with the intent to manufacture or deliver, or possession of a controlled or counterfeit substance; trafficking; felony threats against state officials of the executive, legislative or judicial branch; unlawful discharge of a firearm at a dwelling house, occupied building, vehicle or mobile home; unlawful possession of destructive devices; unlawful use of destructive device or bomb; or attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation, to commit any of the above-mentioned crimes.** 

If any of these situations apply to the abuser, it may be illegal for him/her to have a gun.  Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, also restrict a person's right to have a gun if s/he has been convicted of a felony or a domestic violence misdemeanor.  Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.  

* ID Code § 18-3302(11)
** ID Code § 18-310(2)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWhat is the penalty for violating the state and federal firearm laws?

Under Idaho state law, carrying a concealed weapon in violation of state law is a misdemeanor and can be punished by jail time of up to 6 months, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.*  Also, anyone who is convicted of a felony and later possesses a firearm in violation of state law is guilty of another felony and can be punished by imprisonment of up to 5 years in a state prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.**

Also, anyone who has or buys a gun in violation of the federal firearm law can be punished by a fine, jail time for up to 10 years, or both.***

* ID Code §§ 18-3302(14); 18-113
** ID Code § 18-3316(1)
*** 18 USC 924(a)(2)

Did you find this information helpful?

The Abuser Isn’t Supposed to Have a Gun…Now What?

back to topWho do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun?

If you think the abuser is violating state firearm laws, you can call your local police or sheriff department or the State Police.  If you think the abuser is violating federal firearm laws, you can call the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).

You can find contact information for sheriff departments in your area on our ID Sheriff Departments page.

You can find ATF field offices in Idaho on the ATF website. For reporting illegal firearm activity, a person can also call 1-800-ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867).  Many ATF offices have victim advocates on staff (called “victim/witness coordinators”) and so perhaps you may ask to speak one of these advocates if you are having a hard time connecting with (or receiving a call back from) an ATF officer.

A local domestic violence organization in your area may also be able to answer your questions and assist you in talking to the necessary law enforcement officials.  You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our ID State and Local Programs page.

Note: Generally, the abuser does not have to have knowledge of the law in order to be arrested for breaking the law.  If the abuser has or buys a gun in violation of the law, the abuser can be arrested, whether or not s/he knows that s/he was in violation of the law.*

* United States v. Lippman, 369 F. 3d 1039 (8th Cir. 2004); United States v. Henson, 55 F. Supp. 2d 528 (S.D. W.V. 1999)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWhat will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?

Before purchasing a gun from a licensed firearm dealer, all buyers must undergo a criminal background check that is processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).  If the abuser has a qualifying protection order against him/her, or has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor in any state, those records should be in the NICS, which should prevent the abuser from buying a gun.  Not all states have automated record keeping systems, making it more difficult to process the criminal background check, and some criminals and abusers do slip through the system.  Also, it is important to know that background checks are not required for private and online gun sales.  

If the abuser is able to purchase a gun and you believe that s/he should not be able to have one under the law, you can alert the police, and ask that his/her gun be taken away and perhaps the police will investigate.  Generally, it is not a good idea to assume that because the abuser was able to buy a gun, it is legal for him/her to have one.

Did you find this information helpful?

More Information and Where to Get Help

back to topI do not have a protection order against the abuser, and s/he has not been convicted of a any crime. Can s/he legally have a gun?

Even if you do not have a protection order against the abuser and s/he has not been convicted of a crime (misdemeanor or felony), Idaho state law also makes it illegal for anyone in one of the following situations to have a concealed weapons license:

  • Anyone who is formally charged with felony (even if not yet convicted) or anyone who is free on bond or personal recognizance pending trial, appeal or sentencing for a crime which would disqualify him/her from obtaining a concealed weapon license;
  • Anyone who is a fugitive from justice;
  • Anyone who is an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant or narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance (drug);
  • Anyone who is currently suffering from or has been adjudicated (by a court) as:
    • Lacking the mental capacity to stand trial because s/he lacks the capacity to understand the proceedings against him/her or to assist in his/her own defense;
    • Mentally ill (and requiring care and treatment at a facility or through outpatient treatment);
    • Gravely disabled (as the result of mental illness);
    • An incapacitated person (lacking sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions regarding his/her own care, property or financial affairs);
  • Anyone who has been discharged from the armed forces under dishonorable conditions;
  • Anyone who has had entry of a withheld judgment for a criminal offense which would disqualify him/her from obtaining a concealed weapon license;
  • Anyone who is an undocumented immigrant, here illegally in the United States or a U.S. citizen who has renounced his or her citizenship; or
  • Anyone who is under twenty-one (21) years of age.* 

If any of the above apply to your situation, please talk to an advocate at a local domestic violence program in your area about how this law is being enforced.  See our Where to Find Help page to find a local domestic violence organization near you.

If none of these situations apply, you can still make a plan for your safety. See our Staying Safe page for more information.  You can also contact your local domestic violence organization for additional help.  You may want to talk to them about whether leaving the area - either long term or for a little while - might help improve your safety.

For additional information on gun laws in Idaho, you can go to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence website.

* ID Code § 18-3302(11)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topI've read through all of this information, and I am still confused. What can I do?

Trying to understand both federal and state law can be confusing, but there are people out there who can help you better understand the law and your rights under the law.

  • You can write to our Email Hotline.
  • You can contact a local domestic violence organization in your area. (See our ID State and Local Programs page).
  • You can also contact the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit to get more information about the federal firearm law and how it applies to you: 1-800-903-0111 x 2.

 

Did you find this information helpful?

back to top