New legislation went into effect allowing people with Idaho’s enhanced concealed carry permit to bring guns on public college and university campuses July 1. This law, however, does not apply to BYU-Idaho.
Ric Page, associate academic vice president of BYU-I, said the university has made the decision to be weapon-free. The law is for public universities and has no effect on private institutions.
“The BYU-I campus is … dedicated by the prophets of the Lord to be a peaceful environment for inspired learning and teaching. The presence of personal carry firearms and weapons on any university property is inconsistent with that purpose,” according to a university-wide email addressing the policy.
Leah Hasler, a senior studying recreational management, said she’s not against the policy because the decisions about the Church’s universities are divinely inspired.
Hasler said most of the recent shootings have occurred in schools and on campuses, and if professors or students had been armed, there could have been less damage.
“I think we should be able to carry concealed guns, but I respect that BYU-I is a private school and should be allowed to do what they want,” said Haakan Bohman, a junior studying exercise physiology. “Being a church school sets us apart because we’re guided by our beliefs.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislature, many states are considering legislation about whether or not to permit guns on campuses because of the campus shootings in recent years.
“For some, these events point to a need to ease existing firearm regulations and allow concealed weapons on campuses,” according to the NCSL. “Others see the solution in tightening restrictions to keep guns off campuses.”
Since 2013, more than 19 states have introduced laws allowing some form of concealed carry, according to the NCSL. Five states tried, without success, to pass bills prohibiting concealed carry weapons.
“It is the intent of this Legislature to provide for the safety of students, faculty and staff of state colleges and universities to allow for the possession or carrying of firearms by certain licensed persons on state college and university campuses,” according to the bill passed by the Legislature of Idaho.
Those who carry a concealed-carry permit can carry guns on campus but not in public places capable of holding 1,000 people, like residence halls and football stadiums, according to the legislation.
This permit can only be acquired through an eight-hour training course provided by a National Rifle Association instructor.
“I think the gun control fanatics who think owning a gun makes you more of a threat are seriously misguided,” Hasler said. “To get a permit you need training. You need to pass written and shooting tests. They take it seriously. People who go through the effort of getting a license are less likely to abuse it.”
The Idaho Sheriffs’ Association said that the new bill will boost safety and protect gun rights stated in the Bill of Rights.
Senator Curtis McKenzie said the bill restores the basic right in the Second Amendment, but according to Boise State University’s Web page, their president, Bob Kustra, fought against the bill and said it would endanger students and visitors.
“I should note that every public college and university president in our state and every member of the State Board of Education with responsibility for K-20 schools in Idaho also oppose the bill,” McKenzie said.
Hundreds of Idaho residents gathered at the Capitol to protest the bill, according to Idaho Statesman.
According to Idaho Statesman, Police Chief Mike Masterson is preparing for complaints.
“From reading the polls, it looks like overwhelmingly people are against guns on campus, but the governor and his Legislature want to see it a law,” he said.
Idaho State University has hired armed safety officers to patrol campus and protect the students, according to the Huffington Post.
Bohman said there are several students from Idaho who go hunting and shooting, and guns aren’t such a problem.
“If in the future they allow students to carry guns on campus, I’d be all for it,” Hasler said. “I’d be one of them. But if not, there’s a good reason for it.”