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Politics & Government

Bill Expanding Concealed Carry Use At Idaho Schools Clears House Committee

Concealed carry, gun, Guns, constitutional carry
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A bill requiring all public schools to let teachers or staff carry a concealed firearm if they have an enhanced permit is heading to the House floor.

The legislation would also remove any “gun-free zone” signs displayed on school property.

“To me, that’s a big target for would-be shooters,” said Rep. Chad Christensen (R-Iona), who’s sponsoring the bill.

“Hey, come into this school and shoot us up. There’s no guns here, there’s no resistance here. We’ll let you do what you want. Come on in and kill our children,” Christensen said of the signs.

Only a handful of states allow staff to carry without permission from a district or individual school including Utah, where a teacher accidentally shot herself in a school bathroom in 2014.

The bill passed out of committee along party lines Tuesday morning over the objections of law enforcement and education lobbying groups.

Karen Echevarria, who heads the Idaho School Boards Association, pointed out that some schools already allow teachers and staff to carry guns.

“The districts and schools that do permit weapons on school property require far more in the way of training, practice and clearance for who is carrying than this bill provides,” Echevarria said.

A person only needs to take eight hours of one-time training to get an enhanced concealed carry permit in Idaho.

With no mechanism for school boards to prevent an employee from carrying a gun on school grounds under the bill, she said it could create a dangerous situation.

“Like any business or government entity, we have employees who are in crisis, who have substance abuse issues or who have domestic relations problems – all of which could create a situation of instability.”

A separate bill backed by Echevarria’s group would let school boards set up their own concealed carry regulations was introduced in the Senate last month, but it has yet to get a public hearing.

The Idaho Sheriffs Association and the Idaho Chiefs of Police Association also cited the lack of training required to get an enhanced permit compared to the yearly training required for professional law enforcement as one reason to oppose the bill.

“We believe it is a bridge too far, bad for Idaho and bad for Idaho children,” said Jeff Lavey, executive director of the Idaho Sheriffs Association.

But supporters say it’s a Second Amendment issue.

“Local control over constitutional protections is a problem for me,” Christensen said. “The Bill of Rights and the Constitution are protected, supreme law of the land and should be honored everywhere in this country.”

Rep. Heather Scott (R-Blanchard) adds that this could save lives by shortening police response times.

“I don’t want to be in the situation where we do have a school shooting and it goes on for a long time when I think there’s an opportunity here to stop the threat early,” Scott said.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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