Bailey Nielsen – escorted by her grandfather – visited a House panel at the Idaho Statehouse to support legislation allowing visitors to the state who can legally posses firearms to carry concealed handguns in urban areas.
Under an Idaho law that went into effect last summer, any resident aged 18 and older can carry a concealed handgun within city limits inside the state without a permit. The law Ms Nielsen supports would extend that right to any legal US resident or armed services member.
According to the Associated Press, Ms Nielsen’s grandfather, Charles, addressed the panel. Ms Nilsen was silent during the encounter.
“Bailey is carrying a loaded AR-15,” Mr Nielsen said. “People live in fear, terrified of which they do not understand. She’s been shooting since she was five years old,” he said. “She got her first deer with this weapon at nine. 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 dear on a daily basis.”
He argued that responsible gun owners visiting the state should be allowed to carry their weapons without a permit.
“When they come to Idaho, they should be able to carry concealed, because they carry responsibly,” he said. “They’re law-abiding citizens. It’s the criminal we have to worry about.”
Opponents to the law argue it would allow teenagers to carry a concealed weapon within city limits without any training and could lead to shootings.
Republican Representative Christy Zito, who proposed the law, argued that the measure is intended to clarify existing gun laws and give citizens the ability to defend themselves.
“I stand here before you today as a mother and grandmother who has had to use a firearm to defend their child,” Ms Zito 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.”
She said two men once approached her vehicle while she and her daughter were inside.
Last week, Ms Zito passed a gun bill allowing Idaho citizens to take guns into all publicly owned properties, including those leased by private entities.
CBS2 News in Idaho reported that city leaders said the bill might cost them financially as promoters require that guns be prohibited from venues.