If you were packing heat to the Aug. 21 City Club of Boise event (presuming you were also holding a concealed weapon permit), you would have been more than welcome. That said, the conversation was anything but heated.
Boise's City Club, known for nearly two decades as a platform for compelling civil discourse of differing opinions, instead chose to offer a pair of speakers with the same mantra: guns are good. In fact, the speakers argued that more weapons and ammunition would only make Idaho better.
"What Silicon Valley is to California, what banking is to New York, what automotives are to Michigan, I would like to think that Idaho could become the world leader in arms and ammunition manufacturing," said David Lehman, managing partner of GSA Results, a specialist firm in the procurement of government contracts.
Backing up Lehman was the governor, at least the governor for the day--Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter was out of state, meaning Lt. Gov. Brad Little was the chief executive.
"You may have heard about a gun magazine manufacturer that is leaving Colorado," said Little, referring to Colorado's largest producer of ammunition magazines, which announced it was leaving in the wake of new laws limiting magazine capacities. "Well, companies like that are looking not only for the proper business climate, but the right political climate. And that's what Idaho has to offer."
Little rattled off a number of legacy gun and ammunition manufacturers in Idaho, adding that the state currently has 180 licensed ammunition or gun manufacturers.
"That's, in large part, because Idaho is pro-outdoors, pro-Second Amendment," said Little. "This industry is a win-win for Idaho."
Little also took a quick jab at his loyal opposition.
"I recently told someone in the gun industry that, 'I know you like us Republicans, but I don't know if we could do for your industry what [House Minority Leader Rep.] Nancy Pelosi and [President] Barack Obama could do," he said, referring to the nation's increase in gun sales since the beginning of the Obama administration. The line got a big laugh from the City Club crowd.
City Club moderator Marty Peterson reminded the audience that Idaho's gun tradition dates back nearly two centuries.
"That's when Lewis and Clark first brought firearms into Idaho: 40 single-shot muskets, rifles and pistols," said Peterson. "Ever since, Idaho has had a long tradition of guns and ammunition."