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Idaho could be next state to allow guns on campus
Question of the Day
BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Idaho would join a handful of states that allow students, teachers and others to bring guns to class under a measure resurrected by gun advocates in the Legislature on Monday.
A bill before the Senate State Affairs Committee would allow retired law enforcement officers and people with Idaho’s enhanced concealed-carry permit to bring firearms to campus. A similar measure failed in 2011.
Firearms would still be prohibited in student dormitories or residence halls, and facilities seating more than 1,000, such as stadiums or concert halls.
The motion comes on the heels of two fatal shootings on college campuses last week. A student shot and killed a 21-year-old teaching assistant at Purdue University in Indiana Tuesday, and a 22-year-old football player was shot during an argument outside a South Carolina State University dormitory Friday. Sen. Curt McKenzie, one of the proposal’s authors, said Monday arming students and faculty could actually prevent school shootings like this.
Enhanced concealed carry permits in Idaho require completion of an eight-hour training class with an NRA-certified instructor, including firing at least 98 rounds. An applicant must be 21 or older to qualify. In 2011, the previous bill to allow concealed weapons on Idaho college campuses failed in the Senate. It didn’t include the requirement for an enhanced concealed weapons permit, which was only created in Idaho last year.
McKenzie, who’s hoping these changes will win his measure favor, also said there’s no evidence pointing to an uptick in gun crimes at schools with similar statutes.
Colorado, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin allow concealed carry on college campuses, while 23 other states - including Idaho - leave it up to the colleges to decide. Twenty-one states ban guns on campus.
There are still questions about how the bill would affect fraternity and sorority houses. These are often not owned by the university or designated as residence halls, even though many are on campus, so it is unclear whether occupants would be allowed to keep firearms in their rooms.
McKenzie said that might be left up to schools to decide.
Reached Monday, Boise State University spokesman Greg Hahn said his school’s current policy bans firearms except in the hands of peace officers, ROTC members during the course of training, and those with prior written permission from the head of campus security.
“We’re really comfortable with the way things are now,” Hahn said. “It’s proven to be a really safe campus.”
Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale and a gun-rights proponent, emphasized the measure’s deterrent factor.
“Shooters are cowards and bullies,” she said. “If they think there is a chance someone has a gun, they won’t act.”
But some lawmakers think armed students trying to take down a gunman would lead to mayhem. Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, said she was open to retired law enforcement officers carrying on campus, but balked at the idea of students toting firearms to class.
Mixing guns with the “beer culture” on many campuses could have devastating effects, she said.
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