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Testimony: ‘I would rather die,’ ‘Not about safety,’ ‘Common sense’

In testimony at the guns-on-campus hearing this morning, the first called to testify was BSU student Kelby Monks, a criminal justice major and the son of Rep. Jason Monks, R-Meridian. He spoke in favor of the bill, SB 1254, saying, “I would rather sacrifice myself and I would rather die and be shot by a police officer than have an entire audience of my classmates killed and murdered,” he said, adding, “If it’s good enough to have concealed carry or even open carry in here, I think it’s plenty reasonable that we can have one on a campus. … I personally know plenty of people that actually carry on campus … so guns are already on campus whether universities like it or not.” Rep. Kelly Packer, R-McCammon, congratulated Monks on his “courage” for speaking out in favor of a bill that his university opposes.

Callie Sands, a part-time teacher from McCall, spoke passionately about her belief that carrying a concealed weapon keeps her safer and protects those around her as well. “Where do the lunatics go? They go to the soft targets,” she said.

David Duke, chief of police for the city of Moscow, spoke against the bill. “We regularly respond to fights in and around the Kibbie Dome,” he said. “Inserting a firearm into this confrontation,” he said, would lead to injuries and deaths among those involved and innocent bystanders. Rep. Gayle Batt, R-Wilder, asked Duke how police handle the issue elsewhere, of distinguishing “who the good person is and who the bad person is” when people are shooting. He said they don’t know. He noted that when an armed student tried to respond to a shooting incident in Moscow several years ago, he was immediately shot by the perpetrator, and said if police had arrived and seen him, he likely would have been shot by police mistaking him for the perpetrator.

Don Soltman, president of the State Board of Education, said, “This bill is not about safety. Campuses are extraordinarily safe places. It is not about the 2nd Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled there are places where the right to bear arms can be regulated.”

University of Idaho interim President Don Burnett said, “The one thing that is clear is that the teaching and learning environment would be affected.” He said he’s a native Idahoan, he owns guns, served in the military and been a judge. “My experience and common sense tells me that putting loaded, at-the-ready firearms in our classrooms, laboratories and campus venues is simply not a good idea.”


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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