Idaho Teachers Could Be Allowed to Carry Guns in Schools Without Permission

A new bill which would allow school employees to carry guns in Idaho has been approved by the state's House State Affairs Committee.

House Bill 122, sponsored by Rep. Chad Christensen, would allow public school district employees in the state with an enhanced concealed weapons license to carry a concealed firearm on school property without the prior permission of local trustees.

The bill was approved by a 11-2 vote despite attracting strong opposition from law enforcement officials, with the Idaho Sheriffs Association and Idaho Chiefs of Police Association describing it in a letter opposing the bill as a "bridge too far, and bad for Idaho, and bad for Idaho children."

"Additionally, if local law enforcement does respond to a gun incident at a school, things are confusing enough without having extra people carrying guns," the letter adds. "We believe there is great potential for confrontations under such conditions that could have tragic consequences."

Speaking during a hearing on Tuesday, Christensen said he is aware of the risks with having more guns in schools, but said it would be worth doing so to prevent a mass shooting. The lawmaker argued that it takes too long for law enforcement to respond to reports of shots being fired at a school.

"If [this bill] can save 10 lives, five lives ... it's worth it," he said, via Idaho News.

Greg Pruett, of the gun rights organization Idaho Second Amendment Alliance, is one of those who supported HB 122. He also argued police take too long to arrive at a school during a shooting, but other steps must also be taken to address how to prevent such tragedies occurring.

"We have a really bad issue with dealing with mental health," he said. "In the meantime, we have to figure out how to stop this from ever happening in Idaho."

Karen Echeverria, testifying on behalf of the Idaho School Boards Association, agreed with law enforcement officials that local school boards should make their own decision about whether to allow guns on school property.

"Like any business or government entity, we have employees who are in crisis, who have substance abuse issues or who have domestic relations problems, all of which could create a situation of instability," Echeverria said, reported the Post Register.

"And there is no method in this bill where a school can prohibit weapons possession by such an individual."

Jeff Lavey, executive director of the Idaho Sheriffs Association, also argued against the risks of someone with minimal gun training being around students, saying even experienced officers miss a target under pressure.

"You have a man with a gun who took an eight-hour course maybe five or seven years ago using deadly force around children," he said.

HB 122 now goes to the House for a full vote.

Christensen has been contacted for further comment.

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(File photo) School teachers and administrators fire their guns during the FASTER Level 2 two day firearms course at Flatrock Training Center in Commerce City, Colorado on August 10, 2019. The House State Affairs Committee passed a bill which would allow school employees with an enhanced concealed weapons license to carry a gun on school grounds in Idaho. JASON CONNOLLY/AFP/Getty Images