Idaho’s Campus Carry Law Needs Reform

It has been three years since Idaho passed its version of campus carry and one year since Idaho passed permitless carry, and yet—despite the forecast of mass chaos from Michael Bloomberg and the rest of his Chicken Little cohorts—the sky has not fallen.

Despite the general calm in Idaho, however, there have been shootings on college campuses in other states. The most recent was just last month (May of 2017) at North Lake College in Irving, Texas.

The answer to preventing tragedies like this is not fewer guns or more gun restrictions, but more guns in the proper hands. Students and faculty should not be forced to give up their ability to protect themselves in order to live, work, or attend classes on a college campus, yet that is the reality for most of them—even in Idaho.

Sadly, despite the “campus carry” bill that passed the Idaho Legislature in 2014, it is still nearly impossible for most people to carry a gun on college campuses in Idaho. The following are some of the reasons why this is the case:

  1. The campus carry statute (Idaho Code § 18-3309) only applies to public colleges and universities, therefore students and faculty at nominally private institutions (such as NNU and BYU-Idaho) may be legally disarmed.
  2. The campus carry statute explicitly prohibits carry in “a student dormitory or residence hall.” In other words, if you live on campus—even if you meet all the other criteria—you are effectively barred from defending yourself.
  3. The campus carry statute further prohibits carry within “any building of a public entertainment facility” which has “a seating capacity of at least one thousand (1,000) persons.” Boise State University has very liberally interpreted this description to include not just stadiums and arenas, but also the Student Union Building, the Bronco Gym, the Boas Tennis and Soccer Complex, and all the classrooms and other facilities attached to the Albertsons Stadium and Morrison Center. In other words, if you have to attend a class in one of these places, or eat lunch or attend a meeting in the Student Union Building, you are effectively barred from defending yourself.
  4. The campus carry statute legalizes carry only for those who have an ‘enhanced’ Idaho carry permit pursuant to Idaho Code 18-3302H or 18-3302K, therefore students and faculty who do not have a concealed carry permit or who have only a ‘standard’ permit or a permit from another state may be legally disarmed.
  5. Despite the fact that 18-20 year olds can obtain a concealed carry permit by meeting the requirements for an enhanced Idaho carry permit (under Idaho Code § 18-3302 subsection 20), the permit they receive is not actually an enhanced permit and thus does not allow them to carry legally on campus. The required enhanced permit is available only to individuals who are age 21 or older. This single limitation excludes 40 percent of the students at Boise State University (and more than 45 percent of undergraduates) from defending themselves just because of their age.
  6. The enhanced Idaho carry permit is available only to individuals who have completed “a qualifying handgun course” which typically costs at least $100 plus the cost of “at least 98 rounds” of ammunition. The permit itself costs $59.85 in Ada County as of 2017. Those who are too poor to afford these costs are effectively barred from defending themselves.

As you can see, between the costs involved and the location, licensure, and age limitations, it is extremely difficult for the average college student to avoid being a disarmed potential victim waiting for the next deranged school shooter to strike. The right to keep and bear arms is not something to be trifled with, yet even in “pro-gun” Idaho, the laws and policies on the books make self-defense all but impossible on a college campus.

Idaho needs to change the law to allow permitless concealed carry by all adults age 18 and older in all locations—including all parts of college campuses. Disarming the innocent does absolutely nothing to stop determined criminals and only serves to create more victims when these evil killers choose to strike. The time to make these changes is now, not after the next campus shooting when it may be too late.