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Senate passes guns-on-campus bill, 25-10

The Senate has voted 25-10 in favor of SB 1254, the bill to allow guns on Idaho public college campuses; you can read my full story here at The measure now moves to the House side; to become law, it needs passage there and the governor’s signature.  All seven Senate Democrats by just three Republicans in opposing the bill, Sens. John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene; Dan Johnson, R-Lewiston; and Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint.

During the roll call, Goedde asked for 60 seconds to explain his vote. “I’m really conflicted with this,” he said. “I am in favor of local control, but I also respect the 2nd Amendment.” He noted that a despondent North Idaho College student was recently arrested on campus with a gun and 70 hollow-point rounds of ammunition. “We were just lucky that we didn’t have a problem,” he said.

Johnson raised a number of concerns about the bill in his debate, including that it would permit some college students to carry guns, but not his 19-year-old son, a combat military veteran. The bill only allows those 21 or older to carry on campus. Also, he said Lewis-Clark State College, in his district, told him their gun policies apply to students, not to faculty and staff - meaning the bill would actually restrict faculty gun rights. "We take these rights away from people that we’ve already given them in the past," Johnson said.

Keough noted that the section of code being amended was actually written in 2008 by some of the same lawmakers backing this year's bill, including Sens. McKenzie, Pearce and Hagedorn. "I supported the bill that the same sponsors brought to us in '08," she said after the debate, "that gave the colleges and universities the responsibility of governing this on campus. I believe, as a Republican, in local control. ... I listened to law enforcement in my district, which was split about evenly. At the end of the day, I believe it was an unnecessary bill that creates a patchwork of gun zones on college campuses that I believe will potentially make it harder for law enforcement, for students and staff, and for the public to know where you can carry and where you can't carry." Keough said she found it "distressing that the same people who brought this policy to us now are clothing themselves in the 2nd Amendment to take it away."

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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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