[Vision2020] Unanswered questions about guns on campus

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Fri Mar 21 03:54:22 PDT 2014

Courtesy of today's (March 21, 2014) Moscow-Pullman Daily News.


Unanswered questions about guns on campus
University, police discussing upcoming challenges of carrying concealed weapons

Last week, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter signed a controversial bill allowing residents 21 and older to carry concealed weapons on campuses across the state.
What many don't realize is it has never been a criminal offense for anyone carrying a gun on campus and remains so under the new bill, said Moscow Police Chief David Duke.
"Having guns on campus has never been illegal by state code," Duke said. He said it was a policy of the university not to allow guns on campus, but it was not a criminal act. Anyone carrying a weapon was approached by police, reminded of campus rules and assisted in complying.
Starting July 1 there will be two classifications allowed to carry on campus: those with an enhanced concealed weapons permit and retired police officers.
Duke said an enhanced concealed carry is a step above a concealed weapons permit and requires four hours of a legal training course developed using the National Rifle Association standards along with four hours of practicum, which requires shooting the weapon a minimum of 98 times but does not require any specific percentage of that to be target shooting.
"This is one of our concerns with trying to show proficiency with a weapon," Duke said.
He said most likely the amount of target shooting would be left up to the instructor of the course.
The bill, which was strongly opposed by all eight presidents of the colleges and universities around the state, does not allow people to carry firearms within dormitories and residence halls or any public entertainment facility with a seating capacity of at least 1,000 individuals. It also outlines that carrying a weapon while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is unlawful.
Stephany Bales, director of Integrated Communications for the University of Idaho, said it is too soon to provide specific information about what the bill will mean for the UI campus. She said concerns such as metal detectors on campus and increased security are being discussed and deliberated.
"It is a challenging issue to manage, but now that the bill becomes law we are in the process of having that discussion and it involves stakeholders and the larger UI community," Bales said.
Students, student leaders and police chiefs across the state were vocal about their opposition to the legislation but were not allowed to testify at one of the legislative hearings.
Duke said his main concern is the incidence of accidental discharge. He said if students choose to carry in a handbag or backpack and throw the bag down, the motion of the weapon could cause it to go off unexpectedly.
He is also concerned about vehicle theft and prowls as students now have the option of locking up their weapons in their cars.
"Leaving it in the car might be an incentive for some people to go to campus to obtain these weapons," Duke said.
The aspect of public safety also comes into play. While weapons are not allowed in public entertainment facilities during an event, such as the Kibbie Dome, they are still allowed in parking lots and publicly accessible outdoor grounds, which does not limit tailgating events.
"We patrol these areas and respond to alcohol induced fights and we don't want to inject a weapon into that," Duke said. "It is a major concern for us."
Duke said the police department will be working as a contracted partner with the university and will assist it in whatever direction it takes.
New UI President Chuck Staben made a statement regarding the new bill, saying the university will be working with the Board of Regents, along with faculty, staff, students, law enforcement and local officials to ensure a safe atmosphere on campus.
"The University of Idaho is committed to providing a safe, nurturing environment for living, learning and teaching," Staben said.

Catch ya on the flip-flop, Moscow, because . . .

"Moscow Cares" (the most fun you can have with your pants on)
Tom Hansen
Spokane, Washington

"There's room at the top they are telling you still.
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill,
If you want to be like the folks on the hill."

- John Lennon
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