The legislation, which cleared the state House of Representatives
by a 50-19 vote and was overwhelmingly approved by the state Senate
last month, now heads to Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter for his
If the Republican governor signs the bill into law as expected,
Idaho will be the seventh U.S. state that allows guns on college
campuses, according to the National Conference of State
The passage of the Idaho bill comes amid a tense debate on the
extent of gun ownership restrictions in the United States, which has
seen a string of recent shootings at schools, movie theaters and
other public places.
Under the legislation, those who gain a so-called enhanced
concealed-carry permit in Idaho can carry firearms on campus except
in such places as residence halls and public entertainment
facilities like football stadiums.
Anyone who passes an eight-hour gun training course provided by a
National Rifle Association instructor would be eligible to apply for
The bill ignited controversy in the weeks leading to its approval by
the legislature, where Republicans outnumber Democrats by 4-1.
Presidents and faculty of Idaho's leading universities strongly
opposed the measure, as did the police chief in Boise, Idaho's
capital city and home to Boise State University.
But Republican lawmakers sponsoring the legislation and the Idaho
Sheriffs' Association supporting it argued that it would enhance
campus safety and bolster gun rights spelled out in the U.S.
Boise State University President Bob Kustra fought to see the bill
defeated, claiming it would endanger college-age students as well as
younger students who visit the school.
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He noted that weapons are not allowed in Idaho's elementary, middle
and high schools. "Yet children of these same ages are frequently on
Boise State's campus and cannot be kept separate from where guns
would now be permitted," he said in a statement.
Ryan Zollman, an Idaho sheriff who spoke in support of the measure
on behalf of the state sheriffs' association, said allowing guns on
campus would "allow the preservation and protection of our Second
"I oftentimes fear that if you start restricting one thing at a
time, like where you can carry guns, there will be a next step and a
next step to the point where you're not allowed to pack guns
anywhere at any time," he said.
(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman in Salmon, Idaho;
editing by Mary
Wisniewski and Lisa Shumaker)
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