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Proposed 'Guns At Schools' Bill Is Dead Before Idaho House

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A bill that would have allowed anyone with an enhanced concealed carry permit to carry guns at Idaho public schools is dead, at least for now.

House Bill 203 will not get a hearing in the Idaho House of Representatives State Affairs Committee, according to committee Chairman Rep. Steven Harris (R-Meridian).

“The bill will not be heard this year,” he wrote in an email. “This will allow more time for stakeholder involvement.”

However, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Chad Christensen (R-Ammon) said he’s still working on the bill, though he wouldn’t specify what he might be doing to revive it.

“The chairman has cancelled the hearing,” he wrote. “However there are some things in the works.”

The bill had been introduced by the committee, though a bi-partisan group of members expressed concerns.

In addition to preventing public schools from making their own guns on campus policies, the bill also would have prevented administrators from asking employees if they are carrying or to discipline employees for legally carrying on campus. It would not have applied to private schools.

Idahoans can legally carry concealed weapons without a permit, though an enhanced concealed carry permit is useful for legally carrying in some other states. It requires a day-long class.

The decision to kill the bill comes two days after the Idaho Sheriff’s and Idaho Chiefs of Police associations issued a joint statement opposing the bill.

“We’ve heard the argument that schools are in a ‘free fire zone’ because guns aren’t allowed so only criminals will bring guns to schools,” the statement reads. “It is more likely, in our opinion, that firearms in schools will lead to an accidental shooting rather than an increase in student safety.”

Christensen scored an upset win over veteran lawmaker Tom Loertscher in the Republican primary last year, backed by the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance, who painted Loertscher as a “gun grabber.” The Idaho Second Amendment Alliance has targeted several Idaho Republicans they have deemed insufficiently pro-gun in the past few years.

Follow Heath Druzin on Twitter @HDruzinH for more local news.

Copyright 2018 Boise State Public Radio

Heath Druzin was Boise State Public Radio’s Guns & America fellow from 2018-2020, during which he focused on extremist movements, suicide prevention and gun culture.