After an hour of sharply divided testimony, a guns-in-school bill passed a House committee along party lines Tuesday. The House State Affairs Committee passed House Bill 122, which would allow school employees with an enhanced concealed weapons license to carry a gun on school grounds, without local trustees’ permission. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Chad Christensen, R-Iona, acknowledged that more guns in schools could create added risks. But he said he was more concerned by a greater risk — a mass shooting that could unfold in the time it takes law enforcement to arrive at a school. “If (this bill) can save 10 lives, five lives … it’s worth it,” he said.
During a public hearing Tuesday, some speakers said they were sold on the bill’s merits. Greg Pruett of the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance also said law enforcement is unlikely to get to school in time to stop an active shooter. While supporting the bill, Pruett also said Idaho needs to address the root cause of school shootings. “We have a really bad issue with dealing with mental health,” he said. “In the meantime, we have to figure out how to stop this from ever happening in Idaho.” Adam Mabey, sheriff from southeast Idaho’s rural Caribou County, also testified in support of the bill. But Jeff Lavey, the executive director of the Idaho Sheriffs Association, called HB 122 “ a bridge too far.” [full article]