Idaho university allows armed patrols as law takes effect
By Laura Zuckerman
SALMON Idaho (Reuters) - Public safety officers armed with semi-automatic pistols will patrol Idaho State University for the first time on Tuesday to safeguard students and staff, in response to a new state law allowing concealed weapons on college campuses.
Arming eight officers and two supervisors with guns is among the security measures the school in the southeastern Idaho city of Pocatello has adopted in light of the new law, school officials said. Another Idaho university was considering a similar move.
"Our objective is to maintain a safe and secure campus environment. We are increasing our officers' capabilities to respond," Idaho State public safety director Steve Chatterton said in a statement.
The Idaho gun law, passed this year by the state's Republican-controlled legislature, allows retired law enforcement officers and those with so-called enhanced concealed-carry permits to possess guns on university grounds, including some child-care centers but not in dormitories or football stadiums.
Idaho lawmakers took the decision in the aftermath of a string of shootings at U.S. schools and public places, despite opposition from some faculty of the state's leading universities, who strongly opposed the measure.
Republican lawmakers who sponsored the bill argued it would enhance campus safety and bolster gun rights spelled out in the U.S. Constitution, while opponents feared it could endanger students and faculty.
The bill became law on Tuesday, the same day similar legislation took effect in Georgia, where lawful gun owners are allowed to bring weapons into public places such as churches and bars, unless church officials and bar owners decide to ban them.
In Georgia, the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta opted to ban guns on church property. The state's two Episcopal bishops have announced similar decisions. Continued...