No matter how good it may sound to those who believe in an unfettered right to bear arms, a bill proposed in the legislature to allow guns on university campuses has some problems.
The bill would allow retired law enforcement officers and anyone with an Idaho enhanced concealed weapons permit to carry a firearm on campus.
The argument, of course, is the right of a person to defend themselves if confronted with an active shooter. There is a certain validity to that argument, even if the number of times a person successfully defends themselves with a firearm in this country is vanishingly small. It's not zero, but it is rare. Still, the potential exercise of such a right is clearly constitutional.
Our concern lies rather in what is more likely, and the problems this bill would pose to law enforcement.
If someone observes a person with a gun on campus, who is going to check that it's legal or not? How many false alarms would be triggered?
More importantly, ever since Columbine, law enforcement officers train to enter an area where an active shooter is believed to exist as quickly as they can organize a clearing operation, and to take down any shooter as quickly as they can be identified. That means, functionally, shoot the first person you see with a gun.
If people other than law enforcement and the shooter have guns, then suddenly law enforcement has to pause for a second, perhaps a vital second, to determine if the person they see with a gun is the active shooter they are seeking, or someone else who believes they are defending themselves -- the very civilians the officer is trying to protect.
It severely complicates law enforcement's capability to act quickly and decisively and creates a situation that would greatly increase a chance that a mistake could be made.
No matter how well intentioned this bill may be, the practical consequences would not be helpful to law enforcement. The legislature should consider that in its deliberations.
-- Kelly Everitt