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Clark: Idaho lawmakers envision higher caliber of education

Sun., March 13, 2011

It’s a Wild West sideshow at the Idaho Legislature these days, where some of the elected buckaroos are trying to rewrite the “Three R’s” of higher ed.

If they get their way, college soon will be a place of “Reading, ’Riting and Rugers.”

A legislative committee has passed and sent a measure to the House that would let anyone openly pack heat on any Idaho college campus, including football games.

What could possibly go wrong?

I’ll tell you. Sometimes the college football rivalries bring out the worst in otherwise sane individuals.

Take Boise State President Bob Kustra, for example.

Last year in a football flap, Kustra accused the University of Idaho of harboring a “nasty, inebriated” culture.

Man, the Vandals fans were livid. Well, at least they were after sobering up, anyway.

The point is that things can get pretty crazy during football season. Obnoxious fans sometimes hurl empties at their enemies. Do we want to see some of these besotted loons becoming even more armed and dangerous?

I sure hope not.

Next thing you know the trumpet charge will be replaced by the 21-gun salute.

Touchdowns will sound like the shootout finale of the “The Wild Bunch.”

And Lord help the ref who makes a lousy, game-changing call.

Look, I’m no anti-gun sissy. Over the years I’ve owned my share of weapons, from handguns to shotguns to blowguns. I believe in the right to bear arms as well as the right to arm bears, especially during hunting season.

But this Idaho gun bill is one dud of an idea.

Under current Spud State law, colleges and universities have the authority to regulate firearms. Most school officials wisely say no to guns – with cops being the logical exception to the rule.

This new bill would ban colleges and universities from being able to ban the firepower.

Except for in undergraduate dorms, students could waltz around campus like John Wayne with a hog’s leg strapped to his hip.

Think how this could change the college climate.

BILLY – “Hi, Sally. You sure are looking good today.”

SALLY – “Thanks. It’s my new Ruger LC9 centerfire 9 mm pistol with three-dot adjustable sight and black, high performance, glass-filled nylon grip frame.”

BILLY – “Cool.”

SALLY – “Yeah, my parents gave it to me for high school graduation. They knew I’d be coming to an Idaho college.”

BILLY – “It’s even nicer with that blue-and-orange shoulder holster that has “Go Broncos” monogrammed in black. Where’d you get it?”

SALLY – “At the bookstore. They now have a whole firearms school pride section.”

BILLY – “I’ll check it out. But anyway, I was wondering if you’d want to go with me to a movie or something.”

SALLY (drawing down) – “Back off, Billy. You know I’ve got a boyfriend. Come any closer and I’ll put you down like a mad dog.”

BILLY – “Don’t shoot. I’m going. I’m going.”

Hopefully, Idaho college life won’t come to this.

As BSU student Emily Watson said in her testimony against the measure, “Students are not asking for this to happen. …Honestly, we think it’s crazy.”

No, Emily. It’s not crazy.

It’s Idaho.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at

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