Idaho bill would allow staff to carry guns in schools

A bill that would allow Idaho school staffers in the U.S. to carry a concealed weapon is one step closer to becoming law. House members voted 52-18 to approve House Bill 122, which would permit school employees with an enhanced concealed weapons license to carry a firearm on school grounds.

The new law would require that the firearm be kept in someone’s “immediate control,” which is defined as being on someone’s body or within the carrier’s clothing. But the carriers would not have a duty to perform — in other words, they would not be required to use the firearms under threat of violence. Rep. Chad Christensen, R- Iona, who sponsored the bill, said limitations on the ability to carry a concealed weapon infringe on constitutional rights. He said guns at schools would also stop the threat of a school shooting.

The carrier would be required to inform the school’s principal and the district superintendent. Those school officials may share the information with the school board, but the identities of the employees carrying weapons would remain confidential. The bill states that no school employee can be compelled to tell anyone else about the concealed firearm. Staffers also can’t be subject to retaliation or disciplinary action for carrying a firearm.

Schools also would not be allowed to include signs that say they’re a “gun-free zone.” The law would apply to both public and private schools, but private property owners including owners of private school buildings can still ban weapons on their property. School boards oppose the bill, saying the decisions should be made at the local level. Supporters of the bill have argued that officers in rural areas may not be able to respond in time if there were a school shooting in Idaho.

The effects of concealed-carry laws on violent crime remain unclear, according to the RAND Corporation, a California-based think tank that conducts research on gun policies. According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 40 states and Washington, D.C., prohibit carrying a concealed firearm in K-12 schools.