The Idaho state senate approved S 1254 in a 25 to 10 vote Tuesday afternoon. The bill would allow former law enforcement officers and those with enhanced permits to carry firearms on Idaho’s college campuses.
S 1254 will how head to the house for consideration. If it passes there, all it will need is a signature from the governor to become state law.
Legislators spoke for nearly two hours before the bill’s sponsor and Senate State Affairs committee chair Curt Mckenzie (R-Nampa) closed debate.
Sen. Elliot Werk (D-Boise) voted against the bill saying it would do more more harm than good to student safety.
“Is there an instance where an untrained gun carrier will make campuses more safe?” Werk asked fellow senators.
Werk argued allowing guns on campus would complicate law enforcement response to a school shooting as police would be faced with the task of identifying the actual shooter.
Werk also criticized S 1254’s potential financial impact on Idaho’s schools.
“I would contend, as others have, that the fiscal note is inaccurate,” Werk said.
Republican Senator Jim Rice argued in favor of the bill saying allowing guns on Idaho’s college campuses would deter shootings and criminal activity.
Rice cited a Harvard study where convicted criminals were asked whether they would be likely to commit a crime against an armed victim.
“They said they try to avoid situations where the victim could be armed,” Rice said.
Rice said while S 1254 would strip individual universities of their power to implement security measures, it expands 2nd amendment rights to Idaho’s citizens.
According to Rice, the bill’s passage would be a victory for constitutional rights but still doesn’t allow gun owners enough rights under the Second Amendment.
“It falls short of where it ought to go,” Rice said.