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Regional News

Idaho House Panel Approves School Staff Carrying Guns At Work

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Courtesy of Coeur d'Alene School District
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An Idaho House committee has said yes to a bill that would allow school employees to bring guns to their workplace.

Rep. Chad Christensen [R-Ammon] says his bill is aimed at giving schools a chance to respond immediately in case someone comes to campus and starts shooting.“The average police response time in this country is 10 minutes. That’s a long time. And 10 minutes is an eternity for a would-be, for a shooter," Christensen said.

By the time officers arrive, he says, the damage is often already done.

"I believe that armed staff members, a teacher, principal, custodian, can reach that bad guy somewhere in the school and put a stop to it. That’s worth the risk for me. Any of these “woulda”’ situations, that’s worth the risk for me," he said.

Christensen’s bill would allow any school employee with a concealed carry permit to bring a concealed firearm to school, as long as that person has immediate control of it. That person would be required to alert the superintendent and building principal about having the weapon, but his or her identity would be protected.

The bill was opposed by the Idaho School Board Association, represented at Monday's hearing by Karen Echevarria. She questioned why the legislature has moved to preserve local control for school boards in other areas, but not this one.

“This bill provides no discretion to the district to revoke an employee’s ability to carry on school property. Like any business or government entity, we have employees who are in crisis, who have substance abuse issues, or who have domestic relations problems, all of which could create a situation of instability," she said.

The proposal is also opposed by the executive director of the Idaho Sheriffs Association, who says people who carry on school campuses should be well-trained and experienced with firearms. On the other hand, the Caribou County sheriff testified for the bill.

The State Affairs Committee approved it on an 11-2 vote and sent it to the House floor.