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Thursday, September 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Guns-on-campus hearing draws testimony on both sides…

Joel Teuber of the Fraternal Order of Police answers questions from the Senate State Affairs Committee on Friday after testifying in favor of HB 222, the bill to permit guns on Idaho's state college campuses. (Betsy Russell)
Joel Teuber of the Fraternal Order of Police answers questions from the Senate State Affairs Committee on Friday after testifying in favor of HB 222, the bill to permit guns on Idaho's state college campuses. (Betsy Russell)

The Senate State Affairs Committee is hearing HB 222 this morning, the guns-on-campus bill. Sponsor Erik Simpson, R-Idaho Falls, told the senators, "It is a basic human right to be able to protect yourself," and said current law that permits Idaho colleges and universities to ban guns on campus creates "a false sense of security." His bill would eliminate that ability for state colleges and universities, except in undergraduate residence halls.

Joel Teuber of the Fraternal Order of Police, shown here answering questions from the committee, spoke in favor of the bill. He said, "I've heard that crime statistics at Virginia Tech were very low." That didn't stop the deadly shooting there from happening, he said, when a disturbed student opened fire. Teuber told the committee, "You can harden a target by allowing your people to carry firearms. ... A way to prevent bad things from happening at those schools is to harden those targets."

Marty Peterson, special assistant to the president of the University of Idaho, told the committee that the university, its faculty, its associated students, and the Moscow Police Department all oppose the bill. Every college in Idaho, public or private, bans firearms on campus except for law enforcement officers, he said, and there's good reason for that. The UI currently is in court, being sued by a law student who wants to keep guns in his on-campus housing. "We believe that the courts, rather than the Legislature, is the appropriate place for this to be decided."

Michael Blankenship, a professor of criminal justice at Boise State University and a former police officer, told the committee that armed students would create further chaos in the case of a campus shooting. "This is bad policy," he said. "This bill will introduce a greater degree of danger of college campuses." Blankenship said studies show that high numbers of college students contemplate suicide, but only 5 percent succeed in carrying it out; having a firearm would increase their success rate, he said. He told the panel, "Eighty percent of my students are opposed to this bill."

Parrish Miller told the senators, "Every man has the natural right to defend himself against attack. ... Today and for the last 400 years the preferred method of self-defense has been the gun." Current rules, he said, "only serve to disarm the law-abiding."




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Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.