The newly formed University of Idaho Gun Legislation Potential Impacts Task Force is working toward a comprehensive policy proposatl regarding the possession of firearms on university property.
UI President Chuck Staben announced the formation of the task force March 27 after Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter signed the S.E.C.U.R.E. Idaho Campuses Act, which allows people 21 years of age and older to carry concealed weapons on public university and college campuses in Idaho if they possess an enhanced concealed-carry permit or are a retired law enforcement officer.
Although the task force has not yet produced a policy, Executive Director of Public Safety and Security Matt Dorschel said task force members have been engaging in substantive discussion for weeks.
“What does (the law) mean? That’s kind of what the task force is going to determine,” Dorschel said. “We’re trying to interpret the law — I mean it seems somewhat straightforward, you’re allowed to carry and we can’t abridge that right to do it within the law — but there’s a lot of different concerns that people have and different questions that we haven’t answered yet.”
Dorschel said so far the task force — comprised of students, staff, faculty and citywide stakeholders — has discussed key questions they plan on addressing in the proposed policy.
“What are the rights of the concealed carry permit holders in terms of disclosure?” Dorschel said. “Should they disclose that they have a permit and intend to carry on our campus — whether they’re students or employees? What are the rights of other employees or students? Can we challenge individuals on our campus, if we think or suspect they may be carrying a concealed weapon? Those are questions we are trying to answer.”
On the issue of disclosure, Dorschel said the task force would likely decide not to require students, staff and faculty to reveal whether they carry a firearm or not, because it could undermine fairness in and out of the classroom.
“In my mind, if we ask people to disclose that, then we’re opening ourselves up because then there’s the potential for us to in some way discriminate against someone who is exercising their rights,” Dorschel said. “If you’re a faculty member and you know student A carries and student B does not, you’re making some potential judgments about those two people based on that and depending on your views, that could be preferential treatment or discriminatory treatment.”
Dorschel said the task force meets weekly and is currently working on the creation of a website that will answer the public’s questions about the new law and how it will be implemented at UI.
“We don’t have it up and running yet, but we will probably by some point in June or maybe even before June,” Dorschel said.
Dorschel said the proposed policy will be a hybrid between the law and the policy outlined by the State Board of Education that’s individualized to meet the needs of UI. He said a version of the policy is anticipated to be complete by July 1 when the law goes into effect.
Amber Emery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org