February 12, 2014
BOISE, ID – Legislation that would allow guns on Idaho’s college campuses was approved today by the Senate State Affairs Committee in a 7-2 vote. The bill now heads to the full Senate.
Senate Bill 1254 would take away the authority of state-supported colleges and universities in Idaho to regulate in matters relating to firearms. Currently all state-supported colleges and universities in Idaho prohibit the possession firearms on their campuses.
If enacted, this legislation would pave the way for retired law enforcement and individuals – students, faculty, staff, and visitors – who possess an enhanced permit to carry concealed weapons to bring loaded handguns onto campus grounds and buildings, including classrooms, libraries, and student recreation centers. Firearms would be prohibited in (1) student dormitories and (2) “public entertainment facilities” with seating capacity of at least 1,000 provided signage is posted at each point of entry.
In a public hearing, the bill was strongly opposed by university officials from the University of Idaho, Northern Idaho College, and Boise State University. They testified that Idaho’s colleges and universities were among the safest environments for students, faculty, and staff, and that violent crime rates on Idaho’s college campuses are much less than that for the general population. One official called the bill “a solution without a problem.”
The committee terminated the public hearing before other college officials, law enforcement officials, and students who had signed up in opposition to the bill could testify.
Said Andy Pelosi, director of the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus, “We applaud Idaho’s colleges and universities for the steps they have taken to make their campuses safe environments for faculty and students. It is disheartening that the committee failed to listen to college officials who are responsible and accountable for the safety of all people on campus. In addition, the committee chair made a rash decision to shut down the proceedings before law enforcement and students had the opportunity to either testify today or at a follow up hearing. Allowing guns on Idaho’s college campuses will not make those campuses safer. On the other hand, the unintended consequences that will result if guns become more accessible to students – a shooting during an argument or dispute, attempted suicide, unintentional shooting – are real and will make college campuses more dangerous every hour of every day.”
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The Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus was founded in 2008 to urge colleges and universities to band together to oppose the gun lobby’s agenda to push guns onto college campuses. To date, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and more than 365 colleges and universities in 41 states have joined the Campaign. Click to view list.