Fight To Let School Staff Carry Concealed Weapons In Idaho Moves To State Senate
Idaho House lawmakers gave a green light to a bill that would allow any public school staff member to carry a concealed gun on campus if they have an enhanced permit.
The bill passed easily with six Republicans joining all 12 Democrats in opposing it.
“It’s a Second Amendment issue and for me, the Second Amendment Right doesn’t stop at the door of a school,” said Rep Chad Christensen (R-Iona), who sponsors the bill. “It just doesn’t.”
Proponents say more guns in schools could help prevent a mass shooting.
Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger (R-Lewiston), an Army veteran and occasional substitute teacher, said he’d potentially be able to respond to a shooting faster than a school resource officer.
“If I’m not the first one to go down, I can react properly and professionally as the situation warrants,” von Ehlinger said.
Rep. Marc Gibbs (R-Gibbs) said he’s very pro-gun after falling in love with them at a young age at a 4-H camp.
“I have several guns more than my wife would like and I’ve never met a gun I didn’t like,” Gibbs said.
But he voted against the bill because of the lack of training required under the proposal. A person could get an enhanced permit with only eight hours of one-time training.
Law enforcement and education lobbying groups are opposed to it for similar reasons.
A handful of school districts in Idaho already allow some staff members to carry weapons, but require more extensive training. A bill sponsored by the Idaho School Boards Association would make it clear that employees would need permission from school board members to carry a weapon, but it’s yet to receive a public hearing in the Senate.
Any decision to arm school staff members should be up to “Local control, local control, local control,” said Rep. Chris Mathias (D-Boise).
Mathias rejects the idea that constitutional protections are absolute and cannot be limited under any circumstances.
He cited the late-Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion in the seminal 2008 U.S. Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller, which rejected D.C.’s law requiring a handgun registry, among other provisions.
“Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited,” Scalia wrote. “…nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”
State senators will decide whether or not to consider Christensen’s bill next.
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