The controversial issue of whether more guns should be allowed on the campuses of Idaho's public universities and colleges is now in the hands of Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter.
The Idaho House voted 50 to 19 March 6 to pass Senate Bill 1254, which will allow holders of enhanced concealed weapons permits to carry their firearms onto campuses, following nearly 90 minutes of debate. The measure also follows hours of testimony in House and Senate committees where university officials, faculty, staff and students were joined by law enforcement in four-to-one opposition to the bill.
Six Republicans joined 13 Democrats in voting against the measure: Priest Lake Rep. Eric Anderson, Jerome Rep. Maxine Bell, Caldwell Rep. Darrell Bolz, Twin Falls Rep. Lance Clow, Priest Lake Rep. George Eskridge and Boise Rep. Lynn Luker.
"You are recapturing the authority and placing it back with the Idaho Legislature," said Nampa Republican Rep. Christy Perry, in arguing for the bill. "It is our duty to do this for all the citizens."
Early in the debate, Perry said that she regularly carries a firearm, and shared a story of how she brandished her gun at a possible attacker following a road rage incident.
"It was my right to to be able to defend myself," she said. "Regardless of where I'm going to be."
But Boise Democratic Rep. Ilana Rubel questioned the fiscal impact on Idaho's universities, who said it will cost them millions to enforce.
"Tell me what is the justification of this financial knee-capping?" Rubel asked.
But Nampa Republican Rep. Brent Crane pushed back at Rubel's argument, asking his own rhetorical question: "What's the price of an individual's freedom and their personal safety?"
And Twin Falls Republican Rep. Lance Clow, who broke ranks with his GOP brethren in voting no, said he supported Second Amendment protections but questioned how the bill was written:
"This is Constitutional," said Clow. "It's the law that we're modifying."