Bailey Nielsen is the young girl from Idaho who made headlines after she appeared before state lawmakers with a loaded AR-15 assault weapon over her shoulder.
The 11-year-old joined her grandfather, Charles Nielsen, at the statehouse in Boise on February 24, 2020. He testified before a committee in support of a proposed law that would permit lawful gun owners, who are visiting from other states, to carry concealed weapons within city limits.
Bailey Nielsen did not speak. But her grandfather pointed to her as an example of why he felt opponents of the law should not fear guns.
Here’s what you need to know.
Charles Nielsen Says His Granddaughter Has Been Handling Guns Since She Was Five
Bailey Nielsen began handling guns before even she went to elementary school. Charles Nielsen told Idaho state lawmakers his granddaughter was taught how to fire a weapon at the age of five. He said she used the AR-15 to kill her first deer when she was nine, the Associated Press reported.
Nielsen’s grandfather argued that people who favor tighter gun control laws are “terrified of that which they do not understand.” He referred to Bailey as an example of someone who knows exactly what she is doing when she is carrying a weapon. “She knows how not to put her finger on the trigger. We live in fear in a society that is fed fear on a daily basis.”
Mr. Nielsen’s argued that if a person is allowed to carry a concealed weapon in another state, he or she should be permitted to carry the weapon during a visit to Boise, Idaho, as well. He pointed out that the proposed legislation would not extend to people who have been prohibited from possessing weapons. He told lawmakers, “When they come to Idaho, they should be able to carry concealed, because they carry responsibly. They’re law-abiding citizens. It’s the criminal we have to worry about.”
Bailey Nielsen Was Legally Permitted to Carry the AR-15 Because She Was With a Guardian
Idaho is one of the least restrictive states in the nation in terms of gun legislation. Adults 18 and older are permitted to purchase rifles, shotguns, and handguns without a permit and carry them anywhere in the state. Adults are also not required to show proof of training.
Bailey Nielsen was allowed to carry the AR-15 assault weapon, even though she is a minor, because she had permission from a guardian, according to Idaho state law.
“It is unlawful for any person under the age of eighteen (18) years to possess or have in possession any weapon, as defined in Idaho Code, unless he or she:
1. Has the written permission of his or her parent or guardian to possess the weapon; or
2. Is accompanied by his or her parent or guardian while he or she has the weapon in his possession.”
Idaho Residents Are Allowed to Carry Concealed Weapons Without a Permit
There are restrictions barring convicted criminals from purchasing weapons in Idaho. Anyone convicted of a felony is not allowed to possess or own any firearm in the state.
But for Idaho residents without convictions, it is legal to carry concealed weapons without a permit anywhere in the state. A new law that went into effect on July 1, 2019, made concealed carry legal both outside and within city limits for those over age 18. The law previously applied to those over age 21. Open carry was already legal everywhere in Idaho.
The legislation that Charles Nielsen expressed support for would make it legal for residents of other states to carry concealed weapons within city limits as well. His argument is that if the person is allowed to have the weapon in their home state, then they should be allowed to keep it on them when they visit Idaho as well.
The panel Nielsen addressed, the State Affairs Committee, has approved the measure and sent it to the full House for a vote. The measure was proposed by Republican Representative Christy Zito, who explained she once defended herself and her daughter by showing two men she had a loaded weapon. Rep. Zito told the other committee members, according to the AP, “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.”
In Idaho, it is against the law to carry a concealed weapon while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Idaho residents are still encouraged to obtain concealed carry licenses if they plan to travel outside of the state.