BOISE — The Idaho House State Affairs Committee will hold a hearing today on the guns on campus legislation that has already cleared the Idaho Senate, and Idaho State University president Art Vailas will be among those testifying against bill.
At the request of the State Board of Education, university’s were asked to compile potential costs that would be associated with allowing concealed firearms on Idaho’s universities and colleges.
“Just the nuclear energy part of it will cost about $1.5 million for security,” said vice president for university advancement, Kent Tingey.
Thursday night, Tingey said ISU was still trying to calculate costs connected with the 13 health clinics associated with the university and deal with potential problems with the on-campus day care the university provides as well as the fact the Meridian ISU campus shares space with Renaissance High School.
“Hopefully, they (legislators) will take a good, hard look at it,” Tingey said about expenses and other issues universities would face if the guns on campus legislation passes.
Boise State University President Bob Kustra has raised the specter of people openly displaying firearms inside venues including Bronco Stadium and the Taco Bell Arena on his campus if the bill becomes law.
Kustra called the legislation an unfunded mandate not accompanied by the money needed to buy expensive metal detectors or better train security personnel.
Hundreds of people swarmed the Statehouse steps waving signs in protest of the bill that would allow firearms on Idaho college campuses on Thursday.
Students and professors spoke out against the bill — which allows holders of concealed weapons permits to arm themselves when they’re on university property — at the rally, through a light drizzle.
Many said allowing concealed-carry permit holders to tote guns to class and around campus would disrupt a learning environment and force schools to implement costly security measures.
Ron Enright, a retired state employee who attended Thursday’s rally, said he’s an avid hunter and shooter but doesn’t think it’s a wise idea to allow firearms in the college environment.
“I consider myself a responsible gun owner,” he said. “I believe guns have their place, but I don’t think campus is one of them.”
Though concealed-carry permit holders get some training, Enright doesn’t think it’s enough to make them a reliable line of defense in the event of a campus shooter, as some proponents of the bill argue.
“I don’t think people with only eight hours of training —who I consider to be novice gun owners — would be able to confront someone who’s terrorizing a school,” he said.
Not all of the sign-toting demonstrators were against the bill.
Boise State University junior Nick Ferronato was one of about 20 people participating in a counter-protest, arguing people deserved to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
“People who take the responsibility to get concealed weapons permit train constantly,” Ferronato said. “They’re lovers of shooting, and they go out and shoot a lot. They take that responsibility very seriously.”
Fellow counter-protester Andrew Cruz, a BSU student and a military veteran who served in Iraq, brought his handgun with him to the rally. His firearm holstered on his hip, Cruz said criminals who know college students or professors might be packing will likely avoid targeting a campus.
The legislation has been opposed by all of Idaho’s university and college presidents, the State Board of Education and chiefs of police in the cities where campuses are located. It is being supported by the NRA and pro-Second Amendment groups.