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Idaho lawmaker pleads to disallow deadly weapons at Capitol

Two hands holding a gun with a wall of guns on display in the background.
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In the shadow of escalating violence across the nation, the subject of possible attacks, particularly with weapons, was part of a June 3 discussion at the Idaho Capitol.

The scene was a meeting of the Idaho Legislative Council, which includes leadership from both the Idaho House and Senate. That’s when Sen. Melissa Wintrow (D-Boise) expressed her wish to keep guns, concealed or otherwise, out of the Statehouse.

“For the record, I still want to put out there, to disallow deadly weapons into committee rooms and chambers where we're making decisions that upset people,” she said. “I do not think that firearms belong in this building just like they don't belong in the Supreme Court where decisions are being made. I would respectfully request that we explore that again … please!”

On the subject of mounting tensions, Wintrow asked Mike Kish, Idaho State Police Sergeant and administrator of safety at the Capitol, about taking the pulse of possible suspects — before things boil over into an incident.

“People keep saying, 'Oh, there were signs of folks being unstable. There were signs of them coming unglued. There are signs of this.' I would invite the possibility of conversations that don't require an investigation or handcuffs.”

Kish told Wintrow that most contacts with agitated individuals result in people calming down, but there are exceptions.

“Absolutely, we've called some of those people and we found that has been very beneficial to the whole process. And sometimes, we've called, just to talk and then it has escalated through the roof; and now we know that person is an issue.”

Kish also briefed lawmakers on one big change to Capitol security during next year’s session of the legislature: bomb-sniffing dogs.

“First of all, we have two explosive dogs that will come online by this next legislative session. We've had approximately seven suspicious packages, whether in the building or the mailroom this last year. And they're going to help us out with that as well, especially during the legislative session. They'll sweep, whether it's the gallery, the floor of the House and Senate, the committee rooms, to make sure that the environment there is safe.”

Kish says there has been an uptick of protests and demonstrations at the Capitol on a number of issues, including guns and gun violence.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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