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Guns-on-campus debate: ‘Wrong reason,’ Stop the shooter, ‘What we want is safety’

Among those debating SB 1254, the guns-on-campus bill, in the Senate today:

Sen. Roy Lacey, D-Pocatello, said, “Our university leadership says no. Our local police department says no. Our local sheriff says no.” He said sometimes lawmakers seem to think the Legislature is “all-knowing and powerful, and we are not. …. We need to listen to those who are involved, we need to listen to our presidents and sheriffs.” Said Lacey, “The only thing right about this bill, and I did find something right about it, is its timing. Elections are coming up very quickly. And anyone who votes no on this bill will be tagged as anti-2nd Amendment and anti-gun, and I’m sorry to say that many here will be voting for the very wrong reason. This senator is listening, and I will be voting no.”

Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, said she witnessed a shooting in which three people were shot, and wished someone there had had a gun to stop the shooter. “It just seems to me that those who shouldn’t have guns have them, and the ones that should have guns are not permitted to have them on campus,” she said. “So I am supportive of the bill.”

Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, said, “We’re all supporters of the 2nd Amendment here. I’d like to ask you one time to bring forward something to support our 2nd Amendment rights that I can actually support. Because … guns on campus, I just can’t support.” Werk said the bill has “something for everyone to hate,” including restrictions on gun rights. “On our college campuses, what we want is safety, and I think we would all agree with that – we don’t want students in harm’s way,” he said. “We don’t want faculty or staff in harm’s way.” Werk also raised concerns about suicides among college students.

Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell, said, “We have security in this Capitol. ... Most of them are unarmed. We regularly invite in citizens who are armed. They come all the time. It does not make it less safe. The fact that open carry and concealed carry is regularly available in this Capitol while we are in session demonstrates that it is not reasonable to believe that our colleges and universities would be forced to arm 100 percent of their security if a few citizens who have these higher-level concealed carry permits are allowed to carry on campus.  It does not follow. … It’s unnecessary.” He said, “We sometimes think that our duty is to make everyone safe. Our duty under our Constitution is not to make everyone safe. It is to preserve liberty.”

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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