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Gun permit bill advances to full Idaho House

BOISE – A bill to permit guns on Idaho’s college campuses was approved by a legislative committee Thursday and now moves to the full Idaho House, over the objections of law enforcement, the colleges and the state Board of Education.

The bill would permit anyone to openly carry a gun on any Idaho campus, except in undergraduate residence halls.

“It’s a basic human right to be able to protect yourself from those who intend to do you harm,” said Rep. Erik Simpson, R-Idaho Falls, the bill’s sponsor. “Those rights are being overturned by Idaho colleges and universities who are creating a false sense of security for students, faculty and staff and the public by creating gun-free zones.”

Matthew Dogali of the National Rifle Association told the House State Affairs Committee, “You can carry (guns) in any sporting event that is not on a college campus right now. So it doesn’t make any sense why Bronco Stadium is different than a hockey stadium.”

Among those testifying against it were representatives of the Boise Police Department, the state Board of Education, the University of Idaho, Boise State University, Idaho State University and the College of Southern Idaho.

Emily Walton, a BSU student, told the committee, “Students are not asking for this to happen. … Honestly, we think it’s crazy.”

Representatives of both the UI and BSU said the restriction in undergrad dorms is problematic, because in many cases undergraduates and graduate students are housed together in the same units.

Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, said he never knew about the campus gun ban before the bill came up. “We probably run a bigger risk here (in the state Capitol), with some of the angst of the citizenry, and in this institution we have a right to carry,” he said.