A bill to allow students, staff and visitors to carry guns on Idaho's college campuses passed out of a legislative committee Friday, despite objections from students, multiple police chiefs and leaders of all eight of the state's public colleges.
The measure would allow retired law enforcement officers and those with Idaho's new enhanced concealed carry permit to bring their firearms onto campus. Concealed weapons would still be barred from dormitories, stadiums and concert halls.
The 11-3 party-line vote sends the issue forward to debate on the House floor. The bill passed the Senate earlier this month.
Bryan Lovell, president of the Fraternal Order of Police and a Bonneville Sherriff's deputy, said people should have the right to defend themselves, even on a college campus.
"There are a lot of concealed weapons permit holders out there, and the reason they get that is because they want to protect themselves," Lovell said. "They don't want to be caught in a fishbowl if there's an active shooter."
If the measure becomes law, Idaho would join six other states with provisions — either from lawmakers or dictated by court decisions — that allow concealed carry on campus: Colorado, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah, and Wisconsin, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Utah is the only state with a specific law that forbids universities from banning concealed carry at any of its 10 public institutions.
But Kelby Monks, a Boise State student and son of committee member Rep. Jason Monks, R-Meridian, told the committee that carrying a weapon in a classroom could stop a would-be mass shooter quickly — even while police were still minutes away.
"It does not take more than 30 seconds to empty out an entire clip," he said, adding that concerns about law enforcement confusing good Samaritans with criminal shooters during a crisis situation are overblown. "I'd rather die and be shot by a police officer than have an entire auditorium of my classmates killed," he said.