Former-Boise GOP Rep. Mark Patterson is no longer at the Idaho Statehouse--resigning in early January after it was learned that he had been arrested in Florida during the 1970s on a charge of rape. But Patterson's fingerprints are all over a 2014 version of a bill that he tried to push through the 2013 Legislature.
The measure--this time being fronted by Sen. Marv Hagedorn--would punish Idaho law enforcement officials if they helped enforce any new federal firearms restrictions. The 2013 version passed in the Idaho House but died in an Idaho Senate Committee.
This year Hagedorn, a Meridian Republican, is trying a different strategy: tackling the Senate side of the Capitol first, before heading to the Idaho House where he would hope to have a better chance of passage.
"The first offense would be a $1,000 fine and a second offense would result in a misdemeanor charge," Hagedorn told the Senate State Affairs Committee Feb. 10, outlining how law enforcers could become criminals if they assisted federal agents in enforcing an executive order that, in Hagedorn's view, was in conflict with the Idaho Constitution.
Hagedorn said "in a nutshell" the issue came down to the possibility of a federal order that might lead to confiscation of guns or ammunition. But Boise Democratic Sen. Elliot Werk questioned where Hagedorn's suspicions were rooted.
"Do you have any indication that any federal order or law is imminent in the next decade?" asked Werk.
"No I do not," answered Hagedorn.
But Hagedorn's request for a full hearing on the bill was granted by the Senate State Affairs Committee.
It's far from the only weapons-related bill that the committee will consider during the 2014 session. Committee Chair Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Boise, is steering his own bill, which would allow people with enhanced concealed-weapon permits to carry guns on Idaho campuses.(See updates on the guns on campus below).
Boise State University President Bob Kustra, in a Feb. 4 letter to his university community, cautioned students and staff that, "weapons on campus may in fact, lead to an acceleration of conflict in stressful situations." Additionally, the Associated Students of Boise State, the official student government association, passed its own resolution in opposition to McKenzie's bill.
Even Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter distanced himself from McKenzie's proposal in remarks to a Feb. 7 gathering in the North-Central Idaho community of Craigmont.
"We give all these assets--these big buildings, these big campuses and everything--to the college president," Otter told the crowd in Craigmont. "And we say you're responsible and now we come back and say ... you can make all the rules and regulations, except..."
Otter didn't finish his sentence but reminded the gathering that any gun regulations should be crafted based on "doing the right thing."
UPDATE: Feb. 12, 2014 10:45 a.m.
At 10:40 a.m. on Feb. 12, the Republican majority of the Idaho Senate State Affairs Committee overwhelmingly approved a measure which would see more students, staff and faculty carrying firearms onto Idaho's public college campuses.
"That concludes the business of the committee," said the bill's sponsor and committee chairman Sen. Curt McKenzie.
But that business didn't include input from dozens of citizens, college officials and law enforcement officers who came to speak before the committee but were cut off at 10:30 a.m..
"The University of Idaho hasn't even had a chance to speak. My (Boise) Chief of Police hasn't had a chance to speak to the bill," said Boise Democratic Sen. Elliot Werk who asked that the bill be held in committee at McKenzie's discretion so that testimony could continue.
But McKenzie said, "If we continued to hear from everyone, it would take us three or four more meetings."
Ketchum Democratic Sen. Michelle Stennett, also pleading for a delay, said the committee was "being awfully hasty to run this vote through today. We haven't had an opportunity to hear from all of the universities. It's unfair not to have them speak."
One of the colleges that was represented in the two-and-a-half hours of testimony Wednesday morning was the College of Western Idaho which argued that the measure, which would allow persons with enhanced concealed weapons permits to carry guns on campus, would require significant security upgrades.
Even Republican Sen. Patti Anne Lodge asked for more time to review the costs that colleges would face if the bill were passed.
But ultimately, any effort to delay the bill failed, and the Republican majority moved the bill to the full State Senate with a "do pass" recommendation.The vote was 7-2 along party lines.
Voting yes were: Sens. Curt McKenzie (chairman), Bart Davis, Russ Fulcher, Brent Hill, Chuck winder, Patti Anne Lodge and Jeff Siddoway.
Voting no were Sens. Michelle Stennett and Elliot Werk.
ORIGINAL POST: Feb. 12, 2014 9:30 a.m.
When the Idaho Senate State Affairs Committee gaveled in an early morning hearing, which was moved to the Statehouse's Lincoln Auditorium due to the large audience, there was only one item on the agenda—Senate Bill 1254, which allow individuals with enhanced concealed weapon permits to carry firearms onto Idaho's public college campuses.
The sponsor of the bill is the committee's chairman, Sen. Curt McKenzie. But McKenzie didn't present his own measure. Instead, he allowed Dakota Moore, lobbyist for the National Rifle Association to introduce the bill.
Moore said he took personal offense at what he called the "stereotype" of a drinking culture and immaturity among college students. He also pushed back at Boise State University Dr. Bob Kustra's recent letter to his students, staff and faculty that said there was "no recorded incident in which a victim—or a spectator—of a violent crime on a campus has prevented a crime by brandishing a weapon."
"Just five days before he sent that email out, USA Today reporting about a shooting on a Florida campus where a man shot one of his attackers," said Moore. "He was cleared of any liability."
The Senate committee settled in for what was expected to take the better part of the morning, with McKenzie cautioning those wishing to testify that they would be limited to three minutes.
First up was interim University of Idaho President Don Burnett, testifying against the proposal, saying it would cut back the authority of the universities to use their best judgement in working with local law enforcement.
But the hearing took a definitive turn when Dr. Kimberly McAdams, a Boise State University psychology professor told the committee that she was in fear of her life.
"My life was recently threatened by a student," McAdams said, her voice shaking.
McAdams said she was in particular fear of a student who has repeatedly threatened her, yet she felt unsafe in her classroom which has one door and one window.
"There would be no way for me to escape with my life," she said. "I respectfully disagree with the presidents of Idaho universities who oppose this bill. They are not the ones directly in the line of fire. Please give me a fighting chance of saving my life and the lives of my students. This student has been fixated on me. Please support this bill. My life depends on it."
Boise Weekly spoke to two Boise State seniors, Caitlyn O'Very and Lauren Bramwell, who traveled to the Statehouse to testify against the bill.
O'Very works in the Dean of Students office, a place she calls "high stress."
"I work at the front desk," O'Very said. "I would not feel comfortable knowing students could be carrying."
She said students come to her office when they're in trouble, often escorted by police. She does not want to add guns into those high-stress situations.
Her friend, Lauren Bramwell, plans to testify before the committee this morning. She's a political science major and her classes have talked about the bill at length. She said none of her peers seem to support it, and neither does her school.
"All the universities have come together I say it's a bill we don't want. It violates their institutional autonomy," Bramwell said. "If [the committee] won't listen to the universities, maybe they'll listen to the students."
Boise Weekly also met Dave Page who supports the bill. Though he doesn't plan to testify, he drove from Middleton this morning to show his support.
"We have a freedom to carry wherever we want," Page said. "The Second Amendment doesn't restrict that."
Page worries that if he doesn't have the ability to carry anywhere, he'll eventually lose the ability to exercise his Second Amendment right.
Page said after losing that right, "We'll lose out freedom of speech,[and] freedom to assemble."
There are parts of the bill Page doesn't like. He doesn't think guns should be restricted in auditoriums or stadiums. He also doesn't like the requirement for an enhanced concealed permit.
"[The bill] takes this fundamental right and places unnecessary restrictions," Page said.