Idaho Gun Bill Will Allow Students to Carry Firearms on Campus Starting July 1, Opposition Fighting Uphill Battle


A bill in Idaho that will no longer allow colleges to stop students from carrying firearms and ammo on campus is set to go into effect in just a matter of weeks.

According to Inside Higher Ed, Gov. Butch Otter (R-Idaho) signed Senate Bill No. 1254 into law March 12 and it is slated to go into affect July 1. Greg Hampikian, a Boise State University (BSU) professor, wrote a satirical op-ed for the New York Times just two weeks prior titled "When May I Shoot a Student?"

Published Feb. 27, Hampikian satirically asked when it would be appropriate for him to engage in a gun battle with his students. Inside Higher Ed reported each and every public school president in the state opposed the new bill and some higher education faculty are continuing to fight it in the state legislature.

Attorney Benjamin Onosko helped an Idaho division of the American Federation of Teachers faculty union organize a legal memo outlining responses to the bill. Like Hampikian satirically suggested, teachers can carry firearms "to highlight the absurdity" of the bill. The more conventional route, which is not likely to work, would be to file a lawsuit claiming the bill is not constitutional.

"The important part is the language used in the constitution," Onosko told Inside Higher Ed. "The legislature can regulate the university in certain ways, but it can only regulate it in ways that don't violate the university's powers under the constitution."

He said the argument that the gun bill violates the Idaho state constitution may even be a moot point. Since the University of Idaho (UI) was established one year before the state was officially added to the Union, the school has certain powers.

"The Idaho State Board of Education (SBOE) and the University of Idaho Board of Regents has instructed the institutions to apply SB 1254 on our campuses, effective July 1, 2014," UI officials said in a statement to Inside Higher Ed.

Since the school essentially said the state's school system should adopt the bill, faculty opposition is going to be fighting an uphill battle.

Ruprecht Machleidt, a UI physics professor, estimated 90 percent of the state's faculty opposed the bill, but even still they had a small foothold.

"I may consider to put in the syllabus that I don't want any firearms in my classroom," Machleidt told Inside Higher Ed. "But a student can say, 'Well, if you kick me out you're violating the latest Idaho state law.' The student will win [in court], I can predict that."

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