It seems that every liberal in Idaho will have something to gripe about when this legislative session ends. Heck, they can argue religious liberty protections will mean the LBGT community will be mobbed (even with the bill now withdrawn) and that refusal to expand Medicaid will leave millions of dollars and thousands of people without medical care on the table. But one thing they should not gripe about (though I bet they will) will be concealed carry on campus.
Let’s recap shall we. The Senate State Affairs Committee recently supported a bill that would allow individuals with an “enhanced” conceal carry permit to have a weapon on campus. The move is opposed is by the state police, the Boise Police Department and all major colleges in the state. In fact, many police chiefs were ticked the Committee did not hear their full opposition before voting. President Kustra of Boise State sent off a thinly veiled reminder to staff and students to call Senators on the committee and tell them to kill the bill. However, The Fraternal Order of Police and the NRA support the measure.
Most recently the bill went to the Senate Floor where among other arguments against it the most prevalent were as follows; election year posturing, more guns equals more violence and college campuses are already safe. I hate to break it to the seven Democrats and three Republicans who voted no (25-10 roll call vote) but none of those are fully true.
These arguments are fallacious for a variety of reasons. First, since when has any Republican in the state ever been against guns? This goes much further back than this year’s primaries. Second, if more guns equals more crime why is it that in a state like Texas with some of the highest gun ownership per capita gun violence is much smaller than the state of Illinois (due to Chicago which has gun control)? Lastly, college campuses may or may not be safe but since when does a person sacrifice their right to enjoy the Second Amendment to be protected by the police?
Now, I understand some people are freaked out about this possible law being passed. They need not be. Here is why. Several states allow concealed carry on college campuses: Utah, Oregon (yes, even Oregon) and Colorado. Several private schools across the country also allow guns on campus. In all cases there has not been an incident where a law abiding gun owner has caused a violent incident. In other words nobody has gotten drunk and fired off his gun. There is also a study out by supporters of concealed carry that argue rape on their campus has dropped as a result.
Among some of the more memorable moments of the debate in the Senate was Marv Hagedorn. He perhaps provided the best reasons for why concealed carry should be allowed, 1) bad guys do not know who has a gun, 2) you do not have to rely on the cops to protect you, 3) the individuals who are licensed and carry have training and likely have gone through additional training and 4) you do not give up your Second Amendment Rights to be protected by the government/get an education. Well said Senator (how I love veterans)!
I am sure critics will point out that a mentally challenged student in North Idaho came onto North Idaho College’s campus with a loaded weapon and additional ammo. Thankfully nobody was hurt. Critics will argue that is why concealed carry is a bad idea (certainly Senate Democrats did so). Two points. First, he was not a concealed carry holder. Second, people are focusing on the wrong issue here. The issue for that student was not the gun but the lack of mental services for him and others like him.
So, while there remain concerns about concealed carry on campus they should not be overblown. Kids will not go on shooting sprees on Idaho campuses, life will go on as normal and police will continue to be able to do their jobs. The difference is that people will finally be able to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights on Idaho college campuses. If for no other reason, you should be able to support a right in the United States Constitution.