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Eye On Boise

Fri., Feb. 28, 2014, 7:07 a.m.

Guns on campus hearing begins, McKenzie presents bill this time

Sen. Curt McKenzie presents his guns-on-campus bill to the House State Affairs Committee at a hearing Friday (Betsy Russell)
Sen. Curt McKenzie presents his guns-on-campus bill to the House State Affairs Committee at a hearing Friday (Betsy Russell)

The hearing on SB 1254, the guns on campus bill, has opened in the Lincoln Auditorium this morning before the House State Affairs Committee. This time, the bill's sponsor, Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, is presenting his bill himself; at the earlier Senate committee hearing, he deferred to National Rifle Association lobbyist Dakota Moore to present the bill.

McKenzie is going through the various objections raised about his bill by Idaho university presidents, police chiefs and others, using a Powerpoint presentation similar to the one Moore used earlier. On each slide, there's a quote about "lies," from such figures as Winston Churchill, Napoleon Bonaparte and Mark Twain. McKenzie asked the committee, "Would you rather that no one be armed but the murderer?"

Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise, told McKenzie, “One of the primary concerns that I have is whether your bill is allowing open carry of weapons on campus. .. Is there any public university that allows open carry on campus?” McKenzie responded, “I do not know.”

Gannon noted that the bill forbids any regulation of guns by public universities in Idaho, except for restrictions on concealed carrying of weapons as outlined in the bill: Only those with enhanced concealed carry permits or retired law enforcement officers could carry on campus, and even they couldn’t carry in dormitories or auditoriums that hold more than 1,000 people. “But there is nothing that addresses open carry,” Gannon said. “Wouldn’t that imply that there is no prohibition on open carry?” McKenzie, who like Gannon is an attorney, said the bill amends existing law that allows guns to be banned in courthouses and schools, and said, “Those have always been applied to restrict carry, both open and concealed. If you believe that they don’t, that’s something you can test with the courts, but our tradition would suggest otherwise.”

Gannon responded, “As a lawyer you know that tradition isn’t what we’re doing here, we’re doing the bill, and the bill says, ‘Notwithstanding any other provision of state law.’”

There are more than a hundred people in the audience watching the hearing.

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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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