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NIC student brought gun to class, police say

While Idaho lawmakers mull a bill to loosen gun bans on college campuses, Coeur d’Alene police arrested a North Idaho College student Monday for taking a concealed handgun into a classroom.

Authorities said another student told them that the man was upset, has used illegal drugs, had purchased 75 hollow-point rounds for the revolver and had talked about not being afraid to die.

Michael Rustin Dan, 34, of Rathdrum was taken into custody without incident shortly after 9 a.m.

Dan admitted to meth use and appeared to be under the influence or the residual effect of recent use, police spokeswoman Sgt. Christie Wood said. He posted bond for two misdemeanors: unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon and possessing drug paraphernalia.

Dan did not threaten employees or students, but he did violate a prohibition on carrying firearms on campus, a rule college administrators are trying to preserve as legislators debate a bill that would allow some people to carry guns on public college campuses.

“I think this is a good example of why we oppose the policy as it has been proposed in the legislation,” said Graydon Stanley, vice president for student affairs at NIC.

“It gives support to the argument that higher education is making in Idaho about (how) we want to know who the good guys are and the bad guys are, and we have a system in place that has consistently proven to make this a safe campus,” Stanley said.

“If they’re not in uniform, they’re not supposed to have the gun on campus,” he said. “This particular case just illustrates that for us, I think, so well.”

The bill would allow retired law enforcement officers and people with Idaho’s enhanced concealed-carry permit to bring firearms to campus. It would forbid guns in dormitories and large arenas or meeting rooms seating more than 1,000.

The state Board of Education and all eight public college and university presidents in the state have come out opposed to the bill. The general prohibition on guns makes it unambiguous what is acceptable and what isn’t, as Monday’s incident demonstrated, Stanley said.

“It was very clear obviously to this student, and I think would have been to any others that knew about it, that this gun is not allowed here, we need to take action,” he said.

Another student said he saw Dan in class last Thursday with the revolver holstered under his coat. That witness told campus security he thought Dan would be back in class with the gun Monday, and police were called in.

The witness also said he was with Dan last Thursday night and heard him talk about dying and not being afraid to die, and he claimed that Dan bought 75 hollow-point rounds for the gun, authorities said. The student said Dan has relationship problems and is upset, and he was worried Dan would harm himself.

Dan was confronted in class in the Hedlund Building, which houses professional-technical programs, authorities said. Other classrooms were locked down as a precautionary measure while officers removed Dan from the classroom and arrested him. Dan also faces suspension at NIC.

“We felt like we protected everyone that was concerned,” Stanley said.

Dan does not have a concealed weapons permit, Wood said.

He has had numerous run-ins with the law, most recently an arrest last June for resisting or obstructing officers. That charge was amended to disturbing the peace, and Dan was found guilty late last month and sentenced to 10 days in jail.