Idaho: Guns on Campus?

This opinion is just that, an opinion from a member of the Idaho LDS Dems Caucus. LDS Dems is a big tent where opposing views are found often and those differences welcomed.

Guns on campus? What's the rush?

Idaho Senate Bill 1254 relieves Universities of a right currently granted to them, usurping the right and responsibility Universities have to establish gun free zones on their campuses. We implore you to analyze stakeholder concerns, consider the state of safety currently afforded at our institutions of higher education and the costs and benefits of changing policies currently in place.

We encourage you to seek broad spread support from stakeholders, including central stakeholders in school administrators and students. No matter the outcome, these are folks that will need to live a majority of their days with the decisions made and anxieties that could come from them. There is absolutely no reason this bill needs to be rushed through the legislative process and doing so will only lead to the lack of support from central stakeholders. If this is such a constitutional travesty, perhaps legal action should have been pursued years ago rather than beating this drum each session, waiting for the stars to align and get it passed.

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we’re proud to support a great Brigham Young University system of which one campus is located in Rexburg, Idaho. This school system, like our current public institutions of higher education in Idaho, does not feel that gun carrying students are conducive to the academic environment on their campus or needed for improved campus safety.

10 years ago, BYU President Merrill Bateman (1996-2003) filed a sworn affidavit in support of the University of Utah's campus gun ban that was challenged by the State of Utah. Utah did not have a provision of state code allowing institutions of higher education to regulate firearms on campus like Idaho does. Bateman said, “I am aware of no situation or incident that has occurred on BYU’s campus that could have been alleviated by the intervention of citizens armed with concealed weapons. On the other hand, there have been situations where the presence of firearms, even in the hands of law-abiding citizens, would have complicated, escalated and ultimately aggravated the situation or conflict,” Bateman said.

This session, Boise State University President Bob Kustra almost quoted President Bateman verbatim saying, “In fact, we can find no recorded incident in which a victim—or a spectator—of a violent crime on a campus has prevented a crime by brandishing a weapon. In fact, professional law enforcement officials claim that increasing the number of guns on a campus would increase police problems and make it difficult for police officers in a shooting situation to tell the good shooter from the bad shooter and inadvertently shoot an innocent person. Weapons on campus may, in fact, lead to an acceleration of conflict in stressful situations.”

There’s a considerable lack of data regarding the effectiveness of gun carrying on campus, which should really be provided if this is truly a campus safety bill. Until the claims that allowing concealed weapons on campus will make Idaho’s campuses safer can be quantitatively estimated and relied upon, we recommend that you let the decision rest on those who run these institutions and are responsible for their safety. We hope you’ll work together to enact reforms that continue to benefit higher learning in the great State of Idaho.

Jordan Morales
LDS Democrats of Idaho

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