Sunday, August 26, 2018

Idaho Weapons Law

Our pastor asked me to research if there will be any problem with carrying concealed weapons at the elementary school where our church is about to start renting space next Sunday.  Of course, I.C.18-3302D prohibits "any person to possess a firearm or other deadly or dangerous weapon while on the property of a school..." Firearm is clear. But what is a "deadly or dangerous weapon"?

It turns out that it means nothing, or anything depending on the jury. There is no current definition of "deadly weapon" or "dangerous weapon" in the Idaho Code. The Compiled Laws of Idaho 2:2051 (1916):
§ 7024. Concealed and dangerous weapons. If any person, excepting officials of a county, officials of the state of Idaho, officials of the United States, peace officers, guards of any jail, or any officer of any express company on duty, shall carry concealed upon or about his person, any dirk, dirk knife, bowie knife, dagger, sling shot, pistol, revolver, gun or any other deadly or dangerous weapon within the limits or confines of any city, town or village, or in any public assembly, or in any mining, lumbering, logging, railroad or other construction camp, public conveyances or on public highways within the state of Idaho,[emphasis added]
The case law is not any clearer.  State v. Matthews, 798 P.2d 941, 943 (Ida.App. 1990):

The question whether a particular instrumentality is a deadly weapon is for the jury to determine after examining the circumstances of its use. State v. Jones, 109 Idaho 31, 704 P.2d 363 (Ct.App. 1985) (sock full of batteries); State v. Lenz, 103 Idaho 632, 651 P.2d 566 (Ct.App. 1982) (pocket knife). As our Supreme Court has stated:
A deadly weapon is one likely to produce death or great bodily injury. [Citations omitted.] If it appears that the instrumentality is capable of being used in a deadly or dangerous manner and it may be fairly inferred from the evidence that its possessor intended on a particular occasion to use it as a weapon should the circumstances require, its character as a dangerous or deadly weapon may be thus established, at least for the purposes of that occasion.
Looking back over the California case law from which this derived, it appears the jury decides. There is no statutory definition. A sock full of batteries is a deadly weapon under State v. Jones (Ida.App. 1985). State v. Lens (Ida.App. 1982), involving whether a pocket knife is a deadly weapon, acknowledged that defendant's appeal raised a legitimate question:

Lenz contends that I.C. § 18-905 is defective and void for vagueness because, aside from loaded or unloaded firearms, the statute fails to define "deadly weapon." Lenz argues that, without such a statutory definition, no guidance is provided to the citizen charged with the offense, to the attorney who defends him, or to the judge and jury who must decide his fate.[State v. Lenz, 761 P.2d 566, 568 (Ida.App. 1982)]
The decision decided that lack of statutory definition was not sufficient to overturn conviction, because the threat to use a pocket knife was sufficient for a jury to define "deadly weapon."


  1. The decision decided that lack of statutory definition was not sufficient to overturn conviction, because the threat to use a pocket knife was sufficient for a jury to define "deadly weapon."

    Not entirely unreasonable, either.

    A pocket knife, when used to threaten someone, is a "deadly weapon", since it is quite capable of serious or mortal injury.

    Equally, chef with a roll of knives is not carrying a "concelaed deadly weapon" (let alone a brace of them!), absent good reason to believe they're to be used on people rather than produce...

  2. I understand, but try to figure out if you are breaking the law when you have a pocket knife.

  3. I always say, there are no weapons, only tools plus attitude. Tools are everywhere and I bring my own attitude.

  4. "Vague" is exactly the way our self-described betters want the law to be.

    That gives unlimited scope for anything and everything to be a possible "deadly weapon," whether it actually is or not, and that way an accused person can be charged with a crime for possessing it. With modern prosecution (real spelling "persecution,") a vast number of charges can be levied against anyone, and it's a rare jury that will find a man innocent of all those charges.

    It's the "where there's smoke there must be fire" prosecution, and we see it demonstrated in the show trials of Manafort and Cohen; enough charges to choke a horse, so the jury thinks some must be true even if they're all hogwash.

    Thus innocent people go to jail; the Uniparty thinks this is a feature, not a bug, unless they themselves are facing similar charges, which is of course "inconceivable."