If concealed firearms are allowed on university and college campuses in Idaho, it may bring additional expenses for training and arming campus security officers and liability insurance and the Idaho State Board of Education wants to know how much.
Idaho State University officials are busy compiling that information.
The SBOE is asking universities and colleges to calculate a best guess as to the costs that a guns on campus bill now being considered in the Idaho House might bring to institutions of higher learning.
Chief communications and legislative affairs officer for the SBOE, Marilyn Whitney, said questions about financial impacts were asked when the state board opposed the gun legislation in the Senate State Affairs committee.
Whitney said institutions didn’t have time to compile that information before the measure was put up for a vote of the entire Idaho Senate where it passed 25-10. Before the bill goes to the House for a vote, Whitney said the SBOE wants that information.
“We just asked that institutions do their best guesstimate of costs,” Whitney said. “They’ll need to work with their security folks and law enforcement support.”
The House State Affairs Committee, chaired by Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, will consider the bill sometime next week.
Idaho State University Director of Public Safety Steve Chatterton said he has been working with President Arthur Vailas to examine potential costs.
“We’re in the process of putting some cost numbers together,” Chatterton said.
Officers in ISU’s Public Safety department currently do not carry firearms and Chatterton said passage of the concealed weapons on campus bill might lead to arming those officers. He said this would mean more costs for additional training and weapons. Another issue could be an increase in liability insurance premiums that stem from having an armed campus security force.
“The president is cognizant of the issues,” Chatterton said. “He’ll do his very best to keep the campus safe for employees and students, and my officers safe as well.”
Whitney said there may be another issue that would concern ISU’s Meridian campus. The ISU complex in Meridian shares campus space with Renaissance High School and concealed weapons are not allowed in K-12 public schools.
Students at Renaissance High School currently take classes in the high school building as well as the adjacent ISU complex.
“All the institutions have high school and K-12 groups on campus,” Whitney said.
According to a story in the Idaho Statesman, College of Western Idaho leaders have sent a letter to Loertscher stating that school does not have “lockdown capabilities, armed security, or other resources that would be necessary to enforce the statute.” CWI President Bert Glandon says he expects to have a cost estimate this week.
Another concern expressed in the letter is the fact CWI has classrooms on privately owned property away from the main Nampa campus where landlords don’t permit guns.
The guns on campus legislation has been opposed by the leadership of all of Idaho’s public colleges and universities, chiefs of police in the cities where universities are located and the SBOE.
Chatterton summed up the list of concerns about the legislation with one statement: “It’s a delicate issue.”
The concealed carry bill would permit people to carry weapons on higher education campuses if they have an enhanced concealed weapons permit, which requires holders to be 21, go through a criminal and mental background check and have eight hours of training.
Concealed guns would not be allowed in college dorms or at larger public events held on campuses.