Boise State University President Bob Kustra says he’s against proposed legislation that would allow guns on Idaho college and university campuses, because it addresses a problem that doesn’t exist.
Kustra is one of the eight Idaho academic presidents who came out this month in opposition to a proposal that would allow guns to be legally carried on campuses. The State Board of Education also opposes the legislation.
The bill, introduced by Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, has passed the Senate. Debate is scheduled to begin in the House later this week. A similar bill failed in the Legislature in 2011.
Kustra says each time the legislation comes up, it’s puzzling.
“I’m puzzled for the simple fact that our campuses in Idaho are safe now,” he says. “We’ve had no incidents that require average citizens to be armed on our campuses. The bill really seems to be a solution in search of a problem that has not occurred on our campuses - in Idaho anyway.”
McKenzie says he introduced the legislation because Idahoans who want to carry on a college campus are currently being denied a right guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. Kustra, though, says if the bill is passed, it will make campuses more dangerous.
“I think the Second Amendment was designed to protect lives,” Kustra says. “And the strange thing about this legislation is that I think it may have the opposite effect intended by the Second Amendment.”
Kustra says campus security is a matter that should only be handled by trained officers. He says having armed students and faculty – no matter their best intentions – could result in unintended casualties. He’s also unconvinced by supporters’ arguments that having more guns on campus would serve as a deterrent to a potential shooter.
“We have hundreds and hundreds of classrooms in operation any given hour of the day,” he says. “Now what’s the likelihood - what are the odds - that the guy with the gun is going to be in the exact spot where the bad guy with the gun is going to do something?”
Kustra also says he’s concerned that more guns could lead to more suicides, and that access to firearms could result in more shootings when altercations take place “between a faculty member and a student, or between or among students.”
Kustra says the guns on campus proposal has caused “considerable consternation” on the Boise State campus. He says faculty members who testified at a Senate hearing this month in favor of the bill represent only a small minority of professors and other university staff.
“The overwhelming majority who have reached out to me are saying they’re concerned about the day when students can arm themselves and come into my classroom,” he says. “So I don’t think there’s any question the overwhelming majority sentiment on the Boise State University campus is against guns on campus.”
Kustra’s interview aired Tuesday during Morning Edition on KBSX. On the program Monday, we interviewed the sponsor of the legislation, Sen. Curt McKenzie.
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