Posts tagged: guns on campus
Pocatello city officials say Idaho State University security officer have been overstepping their authority, even cleaning up the scene before calling police after an accidental shooting in a classroom, the Idaho State Journal reports. In the September incident, a chemistry professor shot himself in the foot when a gun in his pocket went off during a lecture. “I cannot impress upon you enough that the intent of the Public Safety Officers is to only enforce the university's rules and regulations,” city attorney Dean Transmer wrote. “For anything other than university rules and regulations, it is purely the responsibility of the Pocatello Police Department and other qualified law enforcement agencies to enforce, investigate, cite and arrest.”
Idaho State University is the only one of the three major public universities in Idaho to employ its own campus security force. Boise State and the University of Idaho contract with local city police departments to provide campus security. Click below for a full report from the State Journal and the Associated Press.
The instructor who shot himself in the foot with a concealed handgun while lecturing to 20 students in a chem class at Idaho State University on Tuesday has been identified, and it wasn’t just some guest instructor – it was an assistant professor of chemistry who’s taught at ISU since 2007. The Idaho State Journal reports today that the instructor involved was Byron Bennett, assistant professor of chemistry, who holds a current Idaho Enhanced Concealed Weapons Permit, an Idaho Basic Concealed Weapons Permit and a Utah Concealed Weapons Permit.
A new law passed by Idaho’s Legislature this year over the objections of the state’s colleges and universities allows anyone with the enhanced permit to carry a concealed firearm on public campuses, except in dormitories or large arenas.
The State Journal talked to several ISU students today who were divided about the new law. “It’s probably going to happen again,” said student Randi Leissring. Freshman Taylor Hansen of Chubbuck said her parents plan to buy her a gun. “I’m a girl and I’m little,” Hansen said. “But I’m going to take some safety courses so I don’t shoot myself in the foot.” The State Journal’s full report is online here.
KTVB-TV reports today a key new detail about this week’s accidental shooting on the Idaho State University campus: 20 students were present when the instructor, who has an enhanced concealed carry permit, accidentally shot himself in the foot in a chemistry classroom on the campus. The male instructor had a loaded handgun concealed in his pants pocket, the station reports; it went off while he was teaching. KTVB’s full report is online here. Idaho lawmakers this year passed legislation allowing people with those permits to carry concealed guns on Idaho public college and university campuses – over the objections of every one of the state’s public colleges and universities, and at the urging of the National Rifle Association.
An Idaho State University instructor was shot in the foot yesterday after a concealed, loaded handgun he was carrying accidentally discharged in a classroom around 4 p.m., the Idaho State Journal reports. The wounded instructor had an enhanced concealed carry permit, the type of permit required to carry a concealed weapon on an Idaho public college campus under a controversial new law passed by the Legislature this year. “It was in his pocket,” Pocatello Police Department Lt. Paul Manning told the newspaper.
After the shooting in the Physical Science Complex on the ISU campus, the chemistry instructor was treated and released from Portneuf Medical Center. ISU President Arthur Vailas called the shooting “unfortunate,” and said, “I’m sure the incident was scary and embarrassing.” He added, “When they passed this law it was bound to happen.” Other people were present when the gun discharged; discharging a firearm within city limits is a misdemeanor, but police said they are still investigating the incident. The State Journal’s full report is online here.
As Idaho’s controversial new guns-on-campus law takes effect today – allowing people with enhanced concealed carry permits to carry concealed firearms in most areas on public college campuses in the state – a student group that organized against and strenuously protested the new law has issued a statement saying it fears students themselves will bear the costs. Here’s the statement from the Idaho Coalition to Keep Guns Off Campus:
“Our opinions on this law were not taken into account when legislators voted to allow guns in our classrooms and to remove from our institutions the local control that served students best. Our colleges and universities have complied with the law, but Idaho’s students will pay the cost. Idaho politicians have cut higher education funding by 39% in six years. Meanwhile tuition has skyrocketed. This unfunded mandate will be borne on the backs of students who protested it in the first place. The governor called on the legislature to ‘appropriately and carefully monitor, oversee and manage those difficulties and costs’ but considering legislators' track record supporting higher education, it’s hard to believe that will happen. We do hope that in the future Idaho’s politicians will take into account the will of the people who are most affected by a law.”
During this year’s legislative session, the student group delivered hundreds of letters to the governor and Legislature from students and faculty members opposed to the new law, presented petitions with nearly 3,000 signatures opposing it,m and organized a rally on the Capitol steps.
Idaho’s State Board of Education, meeting in Idaho Falls yesterday, today approved an amendment to its policy on campus safety for the state’s four-year colleges and universities to comply with the new law passed this year authorizing those with enhanced concealed carry permits to carry guns on public campuses. “The updated policy makes it clear that firearms are allowed on campus only as described in section 18-3309(2), Idaho Code, or as allowed by the institution as part of an event or program approved by the institution president,” the state board said in a news release; you can see the full policy here.
State board President Emma Atchley said, “Our public universities and college are extraordinarily safe environments, and the Board is committed to ensuring that remains the case. The institutions will continue to work with security experts and local law enforcement to develop comprehensive plans to ensure the safety of students and others who use and visit our public college and university campuses.”
Each school is updating its security plan, and the college presidents will report to the board on their plans at its August meeting in Pocatello.
A.J. Balukoff, Democratic candidate for governor, is refusing to fill out a National Rifle Association candidate questionnaire, saying it’s “biased and loaded with leading questions that do not allow me to accurately state my position on gun laws.” In a letter back to the NRA, he wrote, “The leading questions and multiple-choice answers in your questionnaire allow for only polarizing and extreme positions.” He noted in particular a question about Idaho’s guns on campus bill, SB 1254, that passed this year. “I believe this bill was not necessary and creates more problems than it solves,” Balukoff wrote. “University presidents, faculty and students should have the ability to determine the culture of their college campus. That culture should not be dictated from the Statehouse.”
You can read both Balukoff’s letter and the NRA questionnaire online here. Balukoff faces Terry Kerr of Idaho Falls in the Democratic primary in May; GOP Gov. Butch Otter, who backed SB 1254 and signed it into law, faces Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, who also supported the bill, along with two other GOP primary challengers, Harley Brown and Walt Bayes.
Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson has sent out a guest opinion, entitled, “Why a police leader feels compelled to take his message directly to the people,” urging Idaho citizens to contact their legislators about SB 1254, the bill to allow guns on Idaho's public college campuses, where they're now banned. Masterson says he and three other police chiefs were blocked from testifying at the committee hearing about the bill last week, and he feels they had valuable information lawmakers needed to hear before passing the bill.
“The right idea will survive public debate,” Masterson writes. “Arbitrarily ceasing debate raises suspicion about intent. It also destroys trust and confidence in the people running the process, in this case, the hearing in the state senate. So I take this opportunity to share my comments with you, the people I serve, and encourage you to share your opinion, whatever it is, with your legislator on this important public safety issue.”
Senate State Affairs Committee Chairman Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, the lead sponsor of the bill, gave over nearly 40 minutes of the hearing to NRA lobbyist Dakota Moore, who presented the bill instead of McKenzie while McKenzie presided over the hearing. “I think the committee members understood the issue well and did have a complete understanding of the positions for and against it,” McKenzie said Friday. “Within the time that we had, I tried to prioritize those who were from the universities.”
In addition to the police chiefs, university students who signed up to testify also weren't called to speak; McKenzie said only about a third of those who signed up were able to testify. “On difficult social issues like this and others we have in this committee, there isn’t enough time to have every person testify to the length that they would want to,” McKenzie said. Click below for Masterson's full guest opinion article.
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) — A state judge has ruled in favor of the University of Idaho in a lawsuit challenging the school's restrictions on keeping firearms in on-campus housing. The ruling was handed down Thursday by 2nd District Judge John Stegner in a case brought by second-year law student Aaron Tribble. Tribble filed his lawsuit in January, claiming that the university's ban on firearms at his on-campus apartment infringed on his constitutional rights. The Moscow-Pullman Daily News reports (http://bit.ly/szuuZ4 ) that Stegner concluded that Tribble essentially waived his right to keep guns at his apartment when he signed a license agreement live there. Stegner also wrote the state Board of Regents has a right to regulate and maintain a safe environment on campus. University officials intend to issue a response later Thursday. You can read the court decision here, and click below for a full report from the AP and the Daily News.