Printed on: February 19, 2014

Campus gun bill advances to House

By KIMBERLEE KRUESI
Twin Falls Times-News

BOISE -- The Idaho Senate voted 25-20 in favor of legislation to allow guns on public college and university campuses, with proponents saying the bill better promotes the Second Amendment.

SB 1254, staunchly

opposed by Idaho college presidents and the State Board

of Education, now moves to the House, where it's expected to pass.

The Senate's seven Democrats opposed the bill, as did three Republicans.

"Sometimes I feel like this body feels like they're all-knowing," said state Sen. Roy Lacey, D-Pocatello. "The only thing that feels right about this bill is timing. Elections are coming up, and anyone who votes no on this bill will be tagged as anti-Second Amendment."

Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene, said he was "conflicted." But with the recent arrest of a North Idaho College student who had 70 hollow-point rounds of ammunition on campus, "We were just lucky that we didn't have a problem," he said before voting against the bill.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Curt Mc-

Kenzie, R-Nampa, would allow retired law enforcement and enhanced concealed-carry permit holders to bring firearms onto college and university campuses. Guns would be banned, however, from dorms, concert halls and stadiums that hold more than 1,000 people.

Six states now permit guns on college campuses: Colorado, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Wisconsin and Utah. Most other states that don't allow guns on campus, including Idaho, let school officials decide.

Sen. Dan Johnson, R-Lewiston, said he opposed the bill because it is too restrictive. His 19-year-old son, a military veteran, would not be allowed to carry a gun on college campuses, Johnson said. He also said Lewis-Clark State College officials told him their gun ban only applies to students, not faculty and staff. If the bill passed, the faculty would have gun rights restricted, too.

McKenzie argued the bill restores gun rights that the government has taken away. While the Senate should consider the opinion of college presidents, he said, lawmakers also should weigh individual liberty.

Earlier this session, police chiefs from Moscow to Boise were turned away from testifying at the bill's committee hearing. Mc-

Kenzie declined to let them speak, also turning away students who wanted to speak against the bill. Most of the hearing testimony time was given to Dakota Moore, a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association.

"Our duty is not to our government entities, our duty is to our citizens," McKenzie said.