- Associated Press - Thursday, March 6, 2014

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - In a March 5 story about a bill to allow guns on college campuses, The Associated Press erroneously reported Idaho Rep. Judy Boyle’s title. Boyle is a representative, not a senator.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Idaho Sheriffs’ Association backs campus gun bill

Idaho Sheriffs’ Association announces support for guns on campus on eve of House floor debate


Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A bill to allow people to carry concealed firearms on college campuses received backing from a law enforcement group the afternoon before it is set for battle on the House floor.

Adams County Sheriff Ryan Zollman said the Idaho Sheriffs’ Association is throwing its support behind the legislation after a “vast majority” of 38 Idaho sheriffs who responded to a poll said they favored it.

Six of the state’s 44 sheriffs didn’t respond, and Zollman wasn’t sure at a Wednesday news conference exactly how many voted for it. Police chiefs, student groups and the heads of all eight public Idaho colleges have said they don’t want the bill to become law.

The legislation, which passed the Senate 25-10 last month, would allow retired law enforcement officers and people with Idaho’s enhanced concealed carry permit to bring guns anywhere except dormitories, stadiums and concert halls.

Opponents argue it will create dangerous situations and an enforcement quandary for campuses, while backers say it upholds Idahoans’ Second Amendment rights.

“Legal citizens should not have the right to pack guns taken away from them,” Zollman said.

An armed campus could dissuade criminals looking for an easy mark, he said. After all, few miscreants seek out victims they know are carrying a weapon.

Still, Zollman said he would not support lifting gun bans in places like courthouses, because those venues already have police or security guards inside in case things go awry.

“I would not, that’s why we’re there,” he said. “We’re there for protection.”

Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa and the bill’s sponsor, addressed opponents’ concerns that unclear language in the bill leaves the door open for students, staff and visitors to carry guns openly anywhere on campus. Lawyers clashed at the last public hearing over whether the authors’ intent matched what the bill would actually allow. McKenzie says it only applies to concealed guns.

More than 200 demonstrators rallied on the Capitol steps last week in opposition to the bill, and a petition opposing the bill with 3,000 signatures was delivered to the House speaker’s office Wednesday.

Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale and co-sponsor of the bill, said there were a lot of misconceptions about who would actually be allowed to bring a gun to campus.

“Unfortunately, a lot of people do not understand what the enhanced concealed carry permit requires,” she said. “They have the idea that we’re handing out guns on the campuses to 16-year-olds, and this is not true.”

She said people who seek out the enhanced permit - which requires applicants be 21 or older, take an eight-hour class and fire at least 98 rounds - are typically interested in practicing shooting to protect themselves.

Boyle also deflected questions about what would happen if the bill becomes law and a person cleared to carry on campus shot and killed someone.

If they’re not protecting themselves, they’re not a victim - they’re now a perpetrator,” she said. “You can’t control everyone’s actions at all times. Our society would be impossible to live in if you did that.”

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