Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Keep guns off campus

    If the Idaho Legislature approves a pending bill that would allow guns on college campuses, it could compromise safety at Wood River High School that is next door to the College of Southern Idaho Campus in Hailey.
    The Blaine County School District owns the old high school building and leases classroom space to CSI and others. Acting School Superintendent John Blackman told the three members of the local legislative delegation last week that he’s concerned that unless the bill is modified to exclude remote college classrooms like the ones in Hailey, it could compromise safety at the high school.
    The Idaho Board of Education opposes the new law that would prohibit state universities from prohibiting guns on campus. The law would allow people with enhanced concealed weapons permits to carry guns.
    Six of eight of Idaho’s universities and three community colleges currently do not allow guns on their campuses.  The presidents of all eight oppose the idea. Currently, campuses are protected by local police, and campus security officers are not armed.
    Law enforcement officials have expressed concern about situations in which they may not be able to tell who is an attacker and who is a defender when they arrive on a scene and see two people or more with guns drawn. Law officers in such a situation likely would shoot first and ask questions later.
    As if to illustrate the problem facing school officials, a student was arrested Monday at North Idaho College for carrying a concealed handgun. Another student had reported the man was upset, had used illegal drugs, and purchased 75 rounds of ammunition. The student was charged with two misdemeanors including possession of drug paraphernalia used for methamphetamine. He was released after he posted bond.
    No one in their right mind would go into a school and start shooting innocent people—and that’s the problem. As much as Nampa Sen. Curt McKenzie may believe in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that guarantees the right to bear arms, neither he nor anyone else has found an effective way to keep people who are mentally ill from buying, possessing and using firearms.
    If the Sandy Hook killer, who took the lives of 20 children and six adults, taught the nation anything, it is that educators are right to be critically concerned about the safety of students.
    Before Idaho’s legislators enact laws simply to appease Second Amendment ideologies, they need to figure out a good way to keep dangerous minds and dangerous individuals away from deadly weapons, and away from large groups of innocent people whose only mistake is to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

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