Senate Bill 1384 — Weapons, firearms, school property

Senate Bill 1384 — Weapons, firearms, school property

by
Parrish Miller
March 6, 2020

Bill description: SB 1384 allows public school employees with an enhanced carry permit to carry a firearm on school property with certain restrictions. 

Rating: +3

Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?

As written, Idaho Code prohibits carrying a concealed weapon in and on the grounds of an Idaho school. SB 1384 creates an exception to this prohibition. It would make carrying legal for public school employees who have a valid enhanced license to do so. 

(+1)

SB 1384 protects school employees who choose to carry a concealed weapon on school property by prohibiting the school from subjecting them to any retaliatory disciplinary actions or adverse work conditions. A school could, though, take disciplinary action against any school employee who "fails to comply with the provisions of this section or other Idaho firearms laws."

(+1)

SB 1384 is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to protecting the privacy of school employees who choose to carry a concealed weapon on school property. It creates a general prohibition against compelling public school employees to disclose whether they are carrying any firearm or deadly weapon. 

(+1)

Unfortunately, SB 1384 creates several exceptions to the general prohibition mentioned above. Public school employees who choose to carry a concealed weapon on school property must tell the school principal as well as the district superintendent and give each official a copy of the enhanced license.

The principal and superintendent are allowed to share the information with the school board.The principal, superintendent, and school board, however, are all required to maintain the confidentiality of the names of those employees with enhanced licenses and the copies of their enhanced licenses. Copies of the enhanced licenses are not to be included in the school employees' personnel file.

Another exception allows this otherwise confidential information to be "shared with law enforcement in the exercise of their duties."

(-1)

SB 1384 instructs that "no public school shall display any signage indicating that school property is a gun-free zone."

(+1)

SB 1384 states that "no school employee shall be required to carry a concealed weapon on school property without his consent" and "no school employee shall have a duty arising from this section to carry or use a deadly weapon on school property."

(+1)

Does it violate the principle of equal protection under the law? Examples include laws which discriminate or differentiate based on age, gender, or religion or which apply laws, regulations, rules, or penalties differently based on such characteristics. Conversely, does it restore or protect the principle of equal protection under the law?

The right to keep and bear arms is a natural right recognized by the U.S. Constitution and the Idaho Constitution, but SB 1384 does not recognize that everyone has that right. Instead, it allows only public school employees with an enhanced carry permit to carry a firearm on school property. While this bill is an improvement on the status quo, it fails to extend that improvement to all people. 

In addition to requiring a specific and costly license to exercise a natural right, SB 1384 also fails to recognize the rights of parents, volunteers, contractors, adult students, and other non-employees to carry a concealed weapon on the grounds of a public school. 

(-1)

Analyst's Note: Some additional (but somewhat speculative) concerns with the language of SB 1384 involve the requirements regarding how a public school employee's weapon must be carried. The bill stipulates specifically that the firearm or deadly weapon be concealed and that the person carrying the weapon maintain "immediate control over the firearm or deadly weapon."

The requirement that the weapon be concealed could be interpreted as prohibiting the open carry of firearms, which would be flatly unconstitutional. The Legislature does not have the constitutional authority to ban (or to delegate the right to ban) the open carry of firearms in any location or by any person who is not a felon. 

SB 1384 defines "immediate control" as "to possess on one's person and within one's own clothing in a manner so that no other person may easily gain control." This definition appears to prohibit off-body carry (such as in a purse or briefcase). It could effectively bar a school employee from carrying, if that employee is required to engage in some activity where carrying is inappropriate or unwise (such as swimming or wrestling) or when an employee must change clothes during the course of a workday. 

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