POCATELLO — An instructor was wounded in the foot after his concealed handgun discharged in a classroom at the Physical Science Complex on the Idaho State University campus at about 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Pocatello police received a call of a shot fired on campus and responded to the Physical Science Complex where they discovered the wounded instructor, according to Pocatello police public information officer Lt. Paul Manning. There were other people present when the gun discharged.
“It was in his pocket,” Manning said. “He did have an enhanced concealed carry permit.”
The instructor, who was teaching in the chemistry department, was not taken by ambulance to Portneuf Medical Center, but his wound was treated and he was released from the hospital Tuesday evening.
“It's unfortunate,” ISU President Arthur Vailas said. “I'm sure the incident was scary and embarrassing.”
Vailas, who is a gun owner and hunter, said he likes guns but not on campus. He joined other Idaho university professors and chief of police from cities with universities during the last Idaho legislative session in opposition to legislation that now allows concealed carry on campuses in Idaho so long as the person has obtained an enhanced permit. Enhanced permits require additional training.
The new law went into effect on July 1 and Idaho State opted to arm its campus security force for the first time as a result.
“When they passed this law it was bound to happen,” Vailas said about gun accidents on campus.
A student on campus, Chad Conner of Pocatello, said he hadn't heard about the accidental shooting Tuesday evening, but he still supports the guns on campus legislation.
And Conner understands something about accidental weapon discharges. About 11 years ago he lost the little finger on his left hand when a Glock 22 .40 caliber handgun he was handling went off.
He said the accident happened after he demonstrated to a friend who was going to purchase the weapon how to disassemble and reassemble the parts. The friend then tried the same thing, but didn't put all the pieces in the right place. When they loaded a round, it failed to fire. The gun discharged by surprise a few minutes later.
“I don't think guns kill people,” Conner said. “People and negligence do.”
Even though Conner supports guns on campus, he said he doesn't carry a weapon at ISU. He's in the robotics program in the College of Technology and said, “I don't see any need for that kind of protection for myself.”
Conner did have a reaction to the accident shooting by the instructor.
“I'm glad he shot himself and nobody else,” Conner said.
President Vailas said there is something that puzzles him about the shooting incident that he hopes the investigation will clear it up.
“I've got to wonder why it discharged,” Vailas said.
Discharging a firearm within city limits is a misdemeanor, but police said any charges will be determined when the investigation is completed.