Idaho University Will Start Arming Its Campus Officers To Protect Students From New Gun Law

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An Idaho law goes into effect Tuesday allowing individuals to carry concealed guns on college campuses. And a state college is responding by arming public safety officers with semi-automatic pistols on campus to protect its students.

Idaho public colleges did not previously arm their campus officers. But Idaho State University director of public safety Steve Chatterton said equipping officers with guns has become necessary to “maintain a safe and secure campus environment” now that others are legally permitted to walk on campus with guns, Reuters reports. Boise State University is also seeking public funds to cover a program to arm its campus officers, at an estimated cost of $1 million per year.

The Idaho law that went into effect July 1 allows individuals with an enhanced concealed carry permit and retired police officers to carry guns on college campuses. In fact, colleges are no longer permitted to institute bans. Acquiring an enhanced permit requires only completing an eight-hour training course taught by a National Rifle Association instructor.

Idaho became the seventh state to pass a law allowing guns on college campuses, even though 95 percent of college and university presidents and chancellors oppose allowing concealed weapons on campuses. In Idaho, many faculty members have expressed alarm over the law and have sought legal advice on potential challenges to the law after the universities resolved not to launch their own legal challenge.

In a legal memo to the Idaho Federation of Teachers, lawyer Benjamin Onosko said the breadth of the law is “quite extraordinary” in that it only disallows guns in dormitories or public entertainment venues of more than 1,000 people. But teachers may have little power to keep guns out of their own classrooms.

“I can say no cellphones, but apparently I can’t say no guns,” University of Idaho physics professor Francesca Sammarruca told the Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Sammarruca leads her school’s chapter of the Idaho Federation of Teachers.

Idaho is also an open carry state, meaning individuals 18 or older can openly carry a gun almost anywhere so long as it is clearly visible. And in March, the state passed a “nullification” law criminalizing enforcement of federal gun laws that is almost certainly unconstitutional.