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New guns-in-schools bill introduced by local legislators


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Rep. Chad Christensen introduces a new guns-in-school bill Wednesday. | Screenshot courtesy of Idaho in Session.

BOISE — The House State Affairs Committee introduced a bill Wednesday to allow anyone with an enhanced concealed carry permit to carry a gun on school grounds.

Sponsoring Rep. Chad Christensen, R-Iona, pointed out that school boards already have the power to allow staff members to carry guns. He said his bill would allow anyone with an enhanced concealed carry permit to carry on school grounds, regardless of whether the school or district allows it.

“Obviously some schools don’t do that around the state, so I believe this will kind of offset that and let certain staff carry if they choose to,” Christensen said. “I would like (the) Boise areas or other areas in the state to have that option if they would like to carry a firearm.”

Christensen is a member of the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia group that recruits former law enforcement officers, such as Christensen.

When asked, Christensen said the bill would apply to teachers, staff members and bus drivers and he believes it would allow them to carry a gun when they travel between districts — such as to a basketball game in another district.

Taking down gun-free school signs and deterring would-be terrorists from engaging in school shootings were the two reasons Christensen said he pushed the bill.

Christen said enhanced concealed carry permit holders need to be 21 or older, so 18-year-old students would not be allowed to carry on campus under the bill.

Rep. Karey Hanks, a St. Anthony Republican and school bus driver, supported the bill.

“I would feel much better about protecting the student athletes that are on a bus because sometimes we feel like a pretty open target,” Hanks said. “I, for one, would love this opportunity to feel that I can legally carry when I’m driving miles and miles sometimes.”

Wednesday’s hearing was only an introductory hearing; no public comment was accepted. Introducing the bill clears the way for it to return to House State Affairs for a full hearing.

The bill was not yet available to read online Wednesday afternoon. It will likely be available Thursday after the House’s chief clerk reads it across the desk and a bill number is assigned.

Christensen has proposed or co-sponsored similar bills in 2019 and 2020.