Boise Police chief: Guns and college kids can be dangerous mix

Campus gun bill critics wonder if the legislature is for the people or the lawmakers.

broberts@idahostatesman.comFebruary 20, 2014 

Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson told an audience at St. Michael’s Episcopal Cathedral that guns and young people on campus can be a dangerous mix. College students are typically at a highly impulsive age, he said.

DARIN OSWALD — doswald@idahostatesman.com

A bill allowing concealed weapons on Idaho college campuses is flawed and being orchestrated by a gun lobby with a tradition of domination and bullying, opponents told more than 100 people gathered at St. Michael’s Episcopal Cathedral Wednesday night.

Mike Masterson, Boise Police chief, told the audience, made up of church members and others, that campuses have a good safety record and introducing guns could upset the balance.

“Guns are not our problem,” he said.

He reiterated his frustration from last week when he was not allowed to testify before a Senate committee hearing on the bill, saying he was “denied his right to speak before my elected representatives.”

Masterson spoke in St. Michael’s sanctuary, just steps away from the Capitol building where he was not allowed to testify.

The Rev. Rich Demarest, cathedral dean, said holding such meetings is part of the role of a cathedral.

“A cathedral is not just for its membership, but for a whole community to gather and talk about things as well.”

The Idaho Senate voted 25-10 Tuesday to allow concealed weapons on campus. Three Republicans, including Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde, voted against the bill.

Goedde was concerned that some opponents to the bill, such as Masterson, weren’t given an opportunity to express their opinion.

“I felt the need to make a statement,” he said.

A University of Idaho lobbyist and former state senator told the St. Michael’s audience that typically a committee chairman will extend the number of days for a bill’s hearing if lot of people show up to testify.

By cutting off public response, “you show disregard for citizens and show a perceived arrogance,” said Joe Stegner, a lawmaker for 13 years and former chairman of the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee.

Stegner said the bill is the latest attempt by the National Rifle Association to move guns into more places, such as malls, buildings and stores.

“That’s their objective,” he said.

Earlier in the day, College of Western Idaho Board of Trustees and its president, Bert Glandon, sent a letter to the House State Affairs committee, where the bill is expected to go next, criticizing the legislation as vague and an unfunded mandate.

St. Michael’s has a tradition of stepping into political issues. A decade ago, Boiseans were arguing over the fate of a Ten Commandments statue the city wanted removed from Julia Davis Park and returned to its owners the Fraternal Order of Eagles.

Boise officials said an anti-gay group had cited the presence of the Ten Commandments in the park as a precedent and said it wanted to erect a statue saying murdered Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard was in hell because he was gay.

Several conservative religious groups complained about removal of the Ten Commandments. St. Michael’s bought the Ten Commandments statue from the Eagles for $10 and placed it on cathedral grounds, where it faces the Capitol across State Street.

“I thought it as a good way of showing how a city and a church can work collaboratively,” said Demarest, who helped orchestrate the purchase a decade ago.

More opinions on the campus gun bill

Editorial Board: Idaho college campuses should stay gun-free

Sen. Curt McKenzie: Idaho concealed-carry bill for campuses smartly protects rights

Robert Ehlert: Missed testimony at gun bill hearing was either bad form or bad planning

Boise State associate professor Ross Perkins: Idaho gun legislation is an affront to our mission

College of Western Idaho professor Clayton E. Cramer: Concealed weapons on campuses won't increase threats

Lewis-Clark State College President J. Anthony Fernandez: Legislation won't make campuses any safer

Bill Roberts: 377-6408, Twitter: @IDS_BillRoberts

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