Idaho Committee Nixes Armed School Staff Legislation

A bill to allow staff and teachers in public schools to carry with an enhanced firearms permit died in a Senate committee on Friday after a narrow 5-4 vote to scuttle the legislation.

Supporters of the bill want districts to have the flexibility to have armed school staff, particularly in rural locations where law enforcement response time may be a half-hour or longer, but opponents of the measure said that the training requirements for the enhanced carry license weren’t strong enough for their liking

Idaho Sheriff’s Association Executive Director Vaughn Killeen testified against the bill last week. He said the one-day class for enhanced concealed carry permits is insufficient to carry on school grounds.

“If you have an untrained teacher, sometimes that person can be just as dangerous as someone else in a setting like that,” he said.

The bill failed 5 to 4. All three Republican members who opposed the bill cited the training concern. Meanwhile, GOP committee members sent a bill to expand permitless concealed carry rights to out of staters to the Senate floor on a party-line vote.

Training standards for armed school staff vary from state to state, and in many cases it’s left up to the school district to decide what training should be required. In Utah, only a concealed carry license is necessary, while in Ohio, the FASTER training program has put thousands of educators through multiple days of training, including firearms instruction, simulations, first aid, de-escalation techniques, and more.

I suspect that this bill will be back next year, and I’d encourage the bill’s sponsor to look into the FASTER program, which has expanded outside of Ohio to Colorado in the past few years. There’s no reason why similar training couldn’t be offered to every Idaho educator that wants it, and we already know the training works. That should satisfy any concerns from Republican lawmakers, and allow for rural school districts in the state to have a first line of defense in case of an attack on the school grounds.

In the meantime, as Idaho Public Radio noted, lawmakers did send a bill to expand constitutional carry protections to those coming into Idaho from other states, which would be a great improvement to the state’s existing permitless carry provisions. The state’s constitutional carry law went into effect in 2016, but only applies to residents of the state. Out-of-staters can still carry as long as they have a license issued by their home state (Idaho recognizes all licenses issued by other states, though only 20 states recognize Idaho’s concealed carry license). If this measure passes, then Idaho will have true constitutional carry, and right now it looks like the chances are good that this will get to the governor’s desk.