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The Bengal's Purr

The Bengal's Purr

Idaho House passes firearm bill


After a third full reading Jan. 31, Idaho House Bill 415 passed with 53 yeas, 16 nays, and 1 absent. The bill, which has since been sent to the Idaho Senate, attempts to address gun violence by amending “existing law to authorize a school employee who possesses an enhanced license to carry concealed weapons to carry on school property in certain instances,” as stated in the bill.

Reports from KMVT show that Rep. Ted Hill (R-District 14) argued that schools are “soft targets” due to the prohibition of firearms on campus. He stated that armed staff would allow schools to respond to active shooter situations before law enforcement arrives.

“The police almost never stop these things,” he told the Idaho Capital Sun. He cited the events of the 2012 Sandy Hook Shooting, when the shooter acted entirely in the period before police arrived.

Despite the three-quarters majority in the House, several groups are opposed to the bill and have offered a variety of criticisms. According to KMVT, Rep. Jack Nelson (R-District 25) stated that although he supports the idea of the bill, he is concerned about how it will be executed in different areas. Nelson also expressed concern that it removes control from school districts and their individual relationships with their local law enforcement.

“You probably don’t relate to it in downtown Meridian,” he said.

Other groups are opposed to the bill in its entirety, such as the Idaho Democratic Party, which also cited the removal of local control as well as the dangers of an increased number of untrackable firearms on school campuses. The concerns over danger are shared by law enforcement, including the Idaho Association of School Resource Officers and Idaho Sheriffs’ Association, which are both opposed to the bill because they fear it will make their response to shooter situations more complicated.

The National Rifle Association is firmly in support of HB415 and backed its passage through the House, stating on its website that, “Every Idaho student deserves nothing less than the strongest shield against evil, and HB415 delivers that protection.”

On March 13, an Idaho Senate committee considered a successor to HB415, Senate Bill 1418, which would require school districts to develop individual policies, but it was rejected.

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