The man whose behavior on the House floor early this month alarmed legislative leaders and prompted security changes at the Capitol is Bryan Carter of Meridian.
Carter, 47, said he is sorry. “It broke my heart that I caused the legislators a concern. That was not at all what I had come about.”
Idaho State Police said Carter committed no crime.
Carter was wearing a gun on his hip about 7 p.m. Jan. 10 when he joined a tour of Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts and their parents. Carter wandered through the House chamber, taking photographs of lawmakers’ desks and documents and reaching into the trash for a discarded paper, which he returned.
The video prompted temporary closure hours of the House and Senate chambers, after 6 p.m. weekdays and on weekends.
Carter said he joined the group after recognizing the tour’s leader, Rep. James Holtzclaw, R-Meridian. Holtzclaw said he thought Carter was a parent.
Carter said he reached into the wastebasket because he thought a scout had put a lawmaker’s document in the trash and he wanted to return it to the desk. “I was just being a regular dad,” said Carter, whose own children were not with him. “The kids were all over the place.”
The photographs Carter took with his cell phone were of an internal legislative phone list and an invitation to a lobbyist-sponsored social event in which he had an interest. “The picture of the phone list is blurry, so it didn’t do me any good.”
Carter is an advocate of Idaho's open-carry gun law and frequently attends public meetings in Meridian and Boise with a sidearm. On Jan. 16, he appeared at a forum at Meridian City Hall attended by 11 lawmakers, including Holtzclaw, Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill and House Speaker Scott Bedke. He sat in the front row for 90 minutes and was last to speak, urging lawmakers to scrutinize spending on school athletics. Carter said he had saved taxpayers $102,000 by home schooling his children the past eight years.
Hill, Bedke and other Republican leaders will meet Wednesday to discuss Capitol security. Reviving the 1996-2008 gun ban in the Capitol is not on the table, said Hill.
“I don’t think it’s risen to that level,” said Hill, R-Rexburg.
Hill joined Bedke and House Minority Leader John Rusche in saying they support broad public access. “This building is way more open than most capitols,” said Bedke, R-Oakley. “There’s a culture and a tradition and I don’t see that changing.”
“I would think one occurrence would not dictate a severe restriction,” said Rusche, D-Lewiston.
But Bedke and Hill said they’re not yet ready to reopen the chambers they control. “It can be opened now for official tours, but wandering through — I’m going to leave that in place for awhile in conjuction with the Senate,” Bedke said.
Rep. James Holtzclaw, said he met with Carter over the summer to discuss gun legislation. Holtzclaw said he didn’t recognize Carter on the tour and shook hands with everyone in the group.
“I hate for him to be looked upon as a bad guy because I don’t really know the gentleman,” Holtzclaw said. “But what he did was wrong.”
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