The House State Affairs Committee has approved Senate Bill 1254 that allows for the possession of firearms under certain circumstances on Idaho’s state college and university campuses. After slightly more than six hours of open testimony and with heavy testimonial representation from Boise State University (BSU) and Idaho State University (ISU), the committee voted 11 to 3 to send the bill to the full House for consideration.
“I am Idaho’s rank and file,” Kevin Satterrlee, head of security for BSU told the committee. “I grew up in Priest Lake and I am no stranger to using a gun. I am Idaho’s rank and file and I do not think you should pass this bill.”
Satterrlee told the committee members a story about a man who was identified on the BSU campus carrying a rifle. “Within seconds, not minutes, but seconds, we responded. With this bill we will have delays in our response to such situations and that will cost lives.”
Tony Snesko, a retired police officer and founder of the Idaho Carry activist group, countered. “We pulled all the records for 911 calls in the year 2012. The average response time was 5 minutes, 49 seconds. That’s not a response ‘within seconds’ as we’ve been promised. As a retired police officer, I have never known a police officer that stopped a rape or an assault. Law enforcement officers arrive after the carnage has occurred. Students need to be able to defend themselves.”
Jon Uda, also on the staff at BSU’s security department, said that the allowing concealed weapons on the campus would force the school to spend additional money for metal detectors and other security equipment and protocols.
Rep. Jason Monks, R-Meridian, asked Uda, “do you have any estimation of what percentage of the student body is currently carrying weaponry on campus illegally?”
“We have suspicion that some are, but we do not know how many,” Uda replied.
Monks continued: “You’ve stated that if students are legally allowed to protect themselves with a weapon, BSU will need to invest millions of dollars in security measures, yet you haven’t invested that kind of money in security measures already. It would appear that you’re more concerned about law-abiding citizens protecting themselves with a weapon than you are concerned currently about law-breaking citizens who are carrying weapons illegally.”
“I do not know how to answer that,” Uda replied.
Last week it was reported that Gov. Butch Otter had learned some startling news from ISU President Arthur Vailas. According to the reports, Otter was told by Vailas that should the state allow concealed weapons on the state’s college and university campuses, ISU could lose its nuclear research and engineering program. That notion appears to not be entirely true, given revelations that the University of Utah allows weapons on its campus yet also maintains its own nuclear research and engineering program.
However, Kent Kunz, director of government relations for ISU, posed a different dilemma as he debated against Senate Bill 1254. “If this becomes law, the cost of licensing our nuclear program will rise dramatically,” suggesting that the university may incur an increased annual cost of as much as $500,000 per year under the proposed bill.
Dr. Bob Kustra, president of BSU, also testified against the bill. “You trust the Idaho Board of Education, you trust the college and university presidents with fiscal and administrative concerns,” he said. “Please trust our judgment with guns on campus.”
Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, asked Kustra “do you make a distinction between the open carry of weapons and the concealed carry of weapons?”
“As far as I am concerned, and as far as BSU’s position on the matter, we don’t want either type of weapon on campus,” Kustra replied.
“Dr. Kustra, as an elected representative I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution,” Crane replied. “As I read the Constitution, I have no jurisdiction and neither do you in prohibiting open carry as it stands now.”
“Our legal counsel sees it differently,” Kustra replied. “We appeal to the authority of the State Board of Education, and we just simply disagree with that.”
“I don’t why we worry so much about concealed weapons on our campuses when we don’t worry about it on our streets,” commented Rep. Kelley Packer, R-McCammon. “Even with young children at our side, out and about in our communities, we are not concerned about law-abiding citizens protecting themselves. I will support this measure.”