“I feel, and I speak for those in our institution, that there isn’t enough evidence to show that having private individuals with guns has stopped an incident on campus from happening. And our concern is just the more guns on campus, the greater risk of something happening.” – Paul Bennion, College of Idaho Vice President of academic affairs.
Idaho Senator Curt Mackenzie (R-Nampa) has produced a solution in search of a problem. “Though eight Idaho public college and university presidents voiced opposition to the legislation, a bill that would allow concealed-carry weapons on public school campuses passed the Senate State Affairs Committee,” the Idaho Press Tribune reports.
The bill, would allow those with enhanced concealed weapons permits and retired law enforcement personnel to carry guns, has created a fight between educational leaders and some legislators.. In early February, The Idaho State Board of Education unanimously voted against the idea.
Other opposition came from Bruce Newcomb, Boise State’s lobbyist at the Capitol and former Republican House speaker. He questioned whether holding the enhanced-carry permit was enough to prepare someone to be effective in a high-stress situation.
“When there is a gun in the hand of a person who only gets training one day in five years, well, I think that’s irresponsible,” Newcomb said. He said educators are worried and that some fear that guns could play a new, dangerous role in disputes on campus. Topics cited included everything from intense classroom discussions to heated conflicts over grades.
“I had one professor say to me, ‘If this bill passes, all my students are going to get A’s,’ ” Newcomb said.
Among other points, College of Western Idaho President Bert Glandon argued that the bill is not clear in its definition of a “campus.” He added that it fails to take the range of younger age groups that visit a college campus into account. Finally, how will this regulation will be enforced? The bill leaves out those important details.
“CWI does not have lockdown capabilities, armed security and any other resources that would be necessary to enforce the regulations,” Glandon said. The law would not apply to two nearby private colleges, College of Idaho and Northwest Nazarene University. However, their administrations expressed concern that the law, if passed, could cause confusion with students and members of the community. It might obscure their rights on those private college campuses. Neither school allows guns on campus.
And with Idaho’s incredibly cash-strapped state of education, the next point rings a loud bell:
Glandon added that they have spoken with law enforcement, who believe it can create confusion during a dangerous situation. He also said the bill has complex cost implications.
“CWI has already identified the potential for signage, armed security and other resources necessary,” he said. “… Our college campuses do not fit within the traditional campus structure by way of locations, diversity of students and capabilities of enforcement. We do not believe that this bill will keep our campuses safe and secure.”
If they want to increase campus safety, why doesn’t the Idaho Legislature invest that same money into rape-awareness and prevention, anti-violence education, increased services for the mentally ill, and more support for faculty, students and staff (including security personell) at all levels?