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Idaho colleges restrict guns on campus. A Republican state lawmaker wants to change that

Idaho state Sen. Dan Foreman on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023, introduced a bill that would repeal an Idaho law that grants college governing boards the power to set rules on firearms. (Angela Palermo/Idaho Statesman/TNS)

A new Idaho bill would eliminate public universities’ and colleges’ authority to regulate guns on campus.

State Sen. Dan Foreman, R-Moscow, on Wednesday introduced the legislation, which would repeal an Idaho law that grants college governing boards the power to set rules on firearms.

“This will restore Second Amendment rights,” Foreman told the Senate State Affairs Committee on Wednesday. “I think it will actually enhance safety.”

The law that the legislation would repeal explicitly bars guns in student residence halls and entertainment venues, such as arenas and auditoriums. It also allows school boards to enact gun restrictions on their campuses.

Foreman, a retired police officer who previously patrolled the University of Idaho campus, said he recalled “one or two” instances of a “student using a weapon,” although “usually, it was a suicide or an attempted suicide.”

Foreman said students with firearm permits have told him they feel “discriminated” against, because they can’t carry their guns on campus.

“Why does the law treat students differently than other people?” Foreman said.

In November, four University of Idaho students were found stabbed to death in a house near campus. Police last month arrested Bryan Kohberger, then a Washington State University student, who is accused of murdering the four students.

Between 2019 and 2021, the University of Idaho documented no cases of illegal weapons possession arrests on campus, according to the school’s annual security and safety report.

Senate Minority Leader Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, a Democrat on the Senate State Affairs Committee who previously worked at Boise State University, criticized Foreman’s bill. In an interview with the Idaho Statesman, she pointed to a 2008 Supreme Court decision authored by former conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote that “the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.”

Idahoans value the Second Amendment, Wintrow said, but also understand that there are appropriate times and places for firearms.

“Our college campus, it is supposed to be a place of free exchange of ideas and debate,” she said. “I think it makes good common sense to make sure we have open and free environments, where people don’t feel any threat, whether it’s perceived or flagrant.”


© 2023 The Idaho Statesman

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