We know that “gun-free zones” offer only the illusion of safety, not genuine security. Anyone with ill intent in their heart isn’t going to be dissuaded from a crime of violence because a sign tells them they’re not allowed to bring a gun into a certain location. Instead, it’s legal gun owners and concealed carry licensees who are disarmed by these policies.
Now, an Idaho state representative wants to remove the “gun-free zone” label from schools in the state.
Rep. Chad Christensen, R-Ammon, introduced legislation today to authorize any school staffer with an enhanced concealed weapons permit to carry a concealed gun on school property. They’d have to inform their principal or superintendent, who would have to notify law enforcement, Christensen told the House State Affairs Committee this morning. The bill also would forbid the display of “Gun-Free School Zone” signs at any public school.
“The main agenda of this bill is to bring down gun-free school zone signs and to deter would-be terrorists from shooting up our schools and our children,” Christensen told the committee. “My No. 1 goal with this is to deter these bad guys.”
As the law currently stands in Idaho, school boards can decide whether or not to allow concealed firearms on campus. Christensen’s bill would remove the ability of those local school board members to decide whether or not staffers can legally carry.
That move to undo the decision-making ability of school boards to determine if armed staffers can be on campus wasn’t all that controversial in the House State Affairs committee, though Christiansen’s fellow representative did tweak the language of his bill to make it more palatable from a legal perspective.
Committee members raised concerns about a clause in Christensen’s proposed bill that would forbid lawsuits over the concealed carrying; the panel agreed to introduce the bill with an added clause exempting “reckless, willful and wanton behavior” from that protection. Rep. Karey Hanks, R-St. Anthony, said she drives a school bus to games and would love the opportunity to carry a concealed gun. “I would feel much better about protecting the student athletes that are on the bus,” she said.
Christiansen’s legislation sailed through its first committee hearing with just one vote in opposition and could very well get to the desk of Gov. Brad Little before long. That’s where things could get a little interesting, given the fact that Rep. Christiansen has been calling for the impeachment of the governor over his COVID-19 orders.
Christensen’s argument for impeachment hangs on two points. First, Christensen argues that Little violated the First Amendment’s right to assemble when he shut down churches and businesses, as well as prevented large gatherings in a public park. Little did this as part of a state shutdown early on in the pandemic…
The second part of Christensen’s argument said Little “has appropriated funds without our approval.” By this, he means Little designated use of the $1.25 billion in federal CARES Act coronavirus relief funds without the Legislature’s approval of how to use those funds…
When asked how much support he had from fellow legislators, Christensen seemed unsure. Christensen said “quite a few” other representatives support him. He estimated his articles of impeachment have a “50/50” chance of getting past the House of Representatives, where they would need a two-thirds vote. But before that can happen, they first must get past the House State Affairs committee. Christensen said that will be “a challenge.”
Will Christiansen’s drive for an impeachment hamper the chances of his armed school staff proposal becoming law? We’ll have to wait and see, but I can’t imagine that Gov. Little is eager to help support a bill offered by the guy who’s trying to impeach him. Politics, and not just policy, may have a say in whether or not the legislation is successfully enacted this session.