Idaho House members voted to approve the controversial Guns on Campus bill (SB 1254) Thursday, March 6 after nearly an hour of debate.
50 members were in favor while 19 objected, Republicans voting in the majority. The bill will now need Gov. Butch Otter’s signature before becoming Idaho law.
Boise State graduate and House Rep. Christy Perry (R-Nampa), who has a concealed weapons permit and regularly carries a personal firearm, said the bill’s passage was necessary in order to protect students walking to and from vehicles off campus during night hours.
“There’s no armed security at Boise State. I was told that they have some blue light security posts and they are there, but where they are at, I couldn’t tell you,” Perry said.
Perry added that Idaho universities should not be allowed to restrict gun possession.
“When the legislature recaptures their authority, and that’s what you are doing by voting on this bill, you are recapturing that authority and you are placing it back with the Idaho legislature,” Perry said.
House member Ilana Rubel (D-Boise), who opposed SB 1254, said Idaho universities collectively rejected the bill citing high increases in campus security costs and loss of campus firearm policy regulation.
“It was drafted without any input from those in the education community. No university was consulted, no one responsible for campus security was consulted, the State Board of Education was not consulted, no advanced studies were conducted,” Rubel said.
Rubel asked fellow legislators to refrain from using isolated incidents of violence as evidence to support SB 1254.
“We really need to be looking at a bigger picture policy,” Rubel said.
Rep. Steven Harris (R-Meridian) said allowing concealed weapons on Idaho campuses would allow individuals adequate protection from would be attackers.
“This is not a campus security bill, this is a personal security bill,” Harris said.
In response to SB 1254, Bryan Vlok, President of the Associated Students of Boise State University condemned legislators for overlooking Idaho students and university presidents opposed to the bill.
Along with other Boise State student leaders, Volk delivered a large bundle of petitions and letters opposing the bill to Gov. Otter’s office Wed. March 7.
Vlok said he and colleagues attempted to contact Otter to request a meeting before the governor addresses SB 1254 but hadn’t heard anything yet.
“Students have made it clear that they don’t want weapons on our campus, and as an elected leader I’ve worked to make sure our legislators know that we are against this bill. The statehouse is ignoring the will of the students who have to live with the reality of weapons in their classroom,” Vlok said in a public statement.