Bill to allow concealed carrying in K-12 schools passes Idaho House

Gun Rights

In January, the Idaho House of Representatives voted and approved a bill that would require K-12 schools to allow employees to carry guns with an enhanced concealed carry license. This bill is known as H-415 and was received by the State Senate on Feb. 1 for discussion.  

A similar bill was passed in March 2014 regarding firearms on university campuses in Idaho when the State of Idaho signed Senate Bill 1254 into law. This law permits qualified retired law enforcement officers and individuals who have obtained an Idaho enhanced concealed weapon license to possess a concealed firearm on public college and university property. 

To receive an enhanced concealed carry license, an applicant must have a training certificate approved by Idaho State Police that shows the individual has attended 8 hours of classroom instruction and has fired a minimum of 98 rounds (with no accuracy requirement) during training that has been done one year prior to their application date. 

Any employee or volunteer who has an enhanced concealed carry license must notify their principal and superintendent that they will carry a concealed firearm on school grounds. However, the school boards are not required to be notified, and administrators cannot deny permission for anyone who meets the requirements to carry under the bill.  

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H-415 passed in the House of Representatives with a 55-16 vote after the representatives debated it for almost two hours. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ted Hill from Eagle, defended the bill and answered questions and concerns posed by the lawmakers.  

“They’re not going to be law enforcement, they’re just there for a final stand,” Hill said at the House voting session on the bill, according to the Idaho Press.  

“It passed because it’s an NRA-sponsored gun bill in an election year in Idaho,” said Ned Burns, a representative who voted against the bill when asked how the bill made it through the House, according to the Idaho Mountain Express.  

According to Section 2 of the bill that would amend Section 18-3302D of Idaho Code, “No school employee shall be held civilly or criminally liable for deciding to engage or not to engage in an armed confrontation during a lethal threat to safety inside of a school or on school property. The decision to use a firearm or other deadly weapon during a life-threatening incident inside of a school or on school property lies solely within the school employee and is a personal decision.” 

This means that those who carry are not required to engage if there is an incident. Also, if they do engage, they are not held liable for the outcome that follows.  

“There is no other realm where that kind of immunity exists. As law enforcement, if we act negligently or beyond our scope of training, we can be and should be held criminally liable,” said Morgan Ballis, the president of the Idaho Association of School Resource Officers to the Idaho Mountain Express. 

There are also concerns about the reduction of local authority on the matter. If this bill is put into law, it will replace Idaho Statute 18-3302D(4)(g) that allows school districts to establish their own policies regarding concealed carrying. 

“Idaho has a long-standing tradition of supporting local control,” Blaine County School District Superintendent Jim Foudy told the Idaho Mountain Express about his position on the issue. “This is due to the fact that there are vast differences between and among rural districts and urban districts. Currently, there are rural districts that have more than a 45-minute response from law enforcement and emergency medical support. In those districts they have carefully developed policy and identified one or more individuals who carry a weapon. HB-415 significantly lowers standards and expectations, as well as the training and certification required.” 

During a public committee hearing regarding the bill, over 100 individuals signed up against the bill, and only five signed up in favor of the bill including an NRA representative.  

The Idaho Press noted that some committee members at the meeting received hundreds of emails in favor of the bill, but almost all of which were identical to each other as public records show.  

Georgia Swanson can be reached at [email protected] 

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