The Idaho Travel Council’s latest “Fall for Idaho” marketing campaign appeals to visitors to come to the state for its fall colors, harvest-season food, hiking and luxury resorts.

The lovely message and others like it are being eclipsed by darkly wrong messages from the Republican majority in the Legislature and Idaho Gov. Brad Little.

Wrong message No. 1 is the appeal to people who would carry loaded weapons in public.

In the name of “freedom ” and supposedly in defense of law-abiding gun owners, the Idaho Legislature has systematically stripped state laws of requirements that adults get weapons training or qualify for permits to own or carry weapons.

It made Idaho an “open carry” state in which it’s legal for adults to carry loaded weapons in plain view in public, even on college campuses.

The felon from Illinois who shot and killed two people and injured four others in the Boise Town Square mall in October had repeatedly exercised his open carry rights.

He had been observed at the mall carrying a weapon on several occasions, according to news reports. His retail theft felony conviction in Illinois apparently was not on list of offenses that would have prevented him from carrying a firearm in Idaho, according to the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office.

Idaho State Police reported that last spring the man had also entered the state capitol while armed and asked to talk to the governor about felons being able to carry guns.

Neither the mall’s prohibition on guns on its private property nor the man’s conversation with a mall security officer deterred the killer. The man shot and killed the security officer.

Wrong message No. 2 is that Idaho is a COVID-19 vaccination-free zone and that the virus that has killed 3,600 Idahoans and a total of 750,000 Americans isn’t that dangerous.

Since the pandemic began, state elected officials have refused to require people to wear masks indoors, instead leaving it to local officials and private business owners.

This week, Gov. Brad Little announced that Idaho would join 18 other states in suing the Biden Administration over its requirement that employees of federal contractors be vaccinated against COVID-19. Idaho’s public universities receive millions of dollars from research contracts with the federal government.

The states contend that the requirement is an illegal federal overreach.

Just 55% of eligible Idahoans have opted to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Contagion is high. New cases on one day this week alone numbered 1,244.

Case numbers have overwhelmed hospitals in the state. They are still operating under crisis standards of care and restricting elective treatments

Idaho’s elected officials need to take a hard look at the messages they are putting out. It’s simply marketing malpractice to invite people to enjoy fall colors and cuisine while at the same time inviting death to come along for the ride.


“Our View” represents the opinion of the newspaper editorial board, which is made up of members of its board of directors. Remarks may be directed to editorialboard@mtexpress.com.

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