Thursday, April 15, 2021

Teachers with guns bill passes Idaho House

by ALEXANDRA DUGGAN Contributing Writer
| March 14, 2021 1:00 AM

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The ongoing mass tragedies that have happened in schools raises questions and debate among all people who want these tragedies to end — should teachers carry guns to prevent school violence, or should guns be banned in schools to prevent school violence?

The majority of the Idaho House believes that yes, teachers carrying guns would be a better scenario than not carrying at all.

House Bill 122 passed 52-18 after many legislators spoke about how they too have concealed carry permits and feel safer with those in schools.

Currently, Idaho Code states that guns are not allowed in schools whatsoever with the exception of a student resource officer. Most public schools have the sign “This is a gun-free zone” on the outside. This bill would make those schools concealed carry zones, keep schools from posting those signs, and let employees carry weapons on their person.

“Most shootings recently have been gun-free zones. They’re just targets,” said Rep. Chad Christensen, R-Iona, who was the floor sponsor for the bill.

Christensen also advocated strongly that the bill was related to the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

“I don’t want local government restricting my Second Amendment rights,” said Christensen. “The Second Amendment doesn’t stop at the door of a school.”

Christensen also brought up an incident in Utah, where a teacher had a gun on her person and dropped it inside the bathroom, where it discharged and hit the toilet.

Even though this situation occurred, Christensen still believes guns are the safer option.

“I do think the small risks outweigh the greater risks,” said Christensen.

The bill would require teachers, if wanting a gun in the classroom, to only be on their person. It would not be able to be in a safe or in a lockbox.

Rep. Chris Mathias, D-Boise, reminded the body that most teachers, police and school administrations remain extremely against guns in schools.

“This bill would expose our children to needless risk with virtually no statistical likelihood of reward, a ton of risk, and a ton of downside,” said Mathias. He noted that the Constitution is not always absolute, citing property rights.

Bill 122 also does not include a duty to perform. Meaning, if a shooter did happen to enter the building, no teacher or employee with a gun would be required to use their gun to protect anyone in that scenario. Law enforcement officers carry weapons and have a duty to perform using those weapons when needed, but the teachers would not.

Studies from the NRA and The National Bureau of Economic Research show very different things. One side says guns equal protection, the other says guns equal higher rates of violence.

Most of the House decided together that with their weapon handling experience, living in rural areas, and constitutional rights, that those things are more than enough reason to let teachers carry on school property.

The bill advances to the Senate.

Alexandra Duggan is an intern with the University of Idaho McClure Center for Public Policy Research and the UI JAMM News Service.