Idaho could become the next state to allow guns on campus.
After two shootings at Purdue and South Carolina State University in January, many lawmakers are determining how to better protect college students.
The Senate State Affairs Committee approved a bill that would allow individuals to carry guns on campus.
The bill, proposed by Republican Sen. Curt McKenzie of Nampa, the chair of the committee, will now head to the Senate floor.
It would allow Idahoans who currently have an enhanced concealed-carry weapons permit to carry guns on campus. Retired law enforcement officers would also be allowed to carry weapons on campus.
“People have the right to keep and bear arms, which is a fundamental right that we put in our Constitution,” McKenzie said to the committee. “This addresses that particular right on college campuses. We’ve tried to craft a bill that both protects that constitutional right, but also takes into consideration the concerns that were expressed in committee and in testimony as well as over the summer and otherwise.”
According to the Ada County Sherriff’s website, the enhanced concealed-carry weapons permit, which entails more training than a regular concealed-carry weapons permit requires the permit holder to be over 21 years old, have completed eight hours of training with a certified instructor, pass a background check and have participated in live fire training, firing at least 98 rounds.
The permit is good for five years.
A similar bill was proposed in 2011, but failed to pass the Senate.
The proposed law would take precedent over the university rule, which currently bans concealed weapons on campus.
The current Boise State policy on firearms states, “The possession, wearing, carrying, transporting, or use of a weapon is strictly forbidden on university owned or controlled premises, including vehicles parked on such premises. This prohibition extends to any person with a government-issued permit or license.”
Greg Hahn, associate vice president for Communications and Marketing, talked about the university’s stance regarding guns on campus.
“We remain against the idea of allowing more guns onto campus,” Hahn said. “We have a track record of safety, with good cooperation between our security team and the Boise Police Department.”
Debbie Rowe, a senior criminal justice major, who has a concealed-carry weapons permit and has participated in firearm training, believes the law would only encourage individuals to bring weapons to campus.
“I don’t think this law is a good idea,” Rowe said. “In my opinion, the law will unintentionally encourage students to bring firearms to campus in order to protect themselves in case of a shooting.”
If passed, firearms would still be prohibited in dormitories and arenas with more than 1,000 seats (Taco Bell Arena has 12,380 seats, Bronco Stadium has 36,387 seats, and the Morrison Center holds between 800 and 2037 seats, depending on the performance.
Those carrying weapons under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs will have their permit revoked for up to three years.
According to the Associated Press, Colorado, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin allow concealed-carry on college campuses.
Idaho is one of 23 states that leave the decision up to the university.
“I think people tend to get trigger happy when they’re hot headed, and in my opinion, a lot of college students are hot headed,” Rowe said.
According to the Boise State campus security website, “BSU contracts with the Boise Police Department (BPD) to provide police and security services to the university campus and community.”
The website goes on to say, “police officers are empowered by Idaho State Law to make arrests, investigate crimes, and carry firearms on campus.”