Testimony concealed at Guns on Campus hearing

Take your pick: it was bad form or bad planning to not allow testimony today from some law enforcement personnel about Sen. Curt McKenzie’s bill to allow retired police and 21-year-olds to carry concealed weapons on Idaho college campuses.

Be 21, take the “enhanced” concealed carry permit class, fire off 98 rounds, and you’re ready to go to class and face the test of your life if you decide to use it.

Perhaps McKenzie, chairman of the State Affairs Committee, and some strict Second Amendment supporters just don’t want to hear people like Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson point out uncomfortable facts or opinions about the unintended consequences of allowing college kids to carry concealed weapons around — even in classrooms.

“My objection in expanding CCW to those who have an enhanced training is based on the insufficient training and preparation they receive to carry in these environments. The enhanced CCW covers eight hours of training. It covers the very basics in classroom instruction and in firearms qualification. 98 rounds of punching holes in paper is a far cry from the countless hours of training we teach our police officers,” wrote Masterson in the statement he never got read. “We prepare our officers for crisis situations, physiological, psychological and mechanical — teaching them how the heart rate increases, blood flow is restricted to appendages, muscle memory is developed, and our brains automatically reduce our vision (tunnel vision) to the item we focus on. It takes many hours of training to overcome how our bodies undermine our decisions to use force appropriately.”

A few weeks ago I had lengthy conversations with Idaho law enforcement and college officials concerned that the peaceful and learning atmosphere of a campus will never be the same.

I support a citizen’s right to bear arms and I like the idea of retired law enforcement and, perhaps, trained military attached to campuses, to be able to carry. The later two categories — trained police and military — are my preference when it comes to a well regulated militia.

I think we’re all concerned that one of the Idaho campuses could be the scene of a tragic mass shooting episode like the ones that now happen at the rate of 15 per year, up from 5 per year in 2000.

But if such an incident were to happen at, say, Boise State University, consider the scenario: Boise Police, BSU unarmed security and 21-year-old students with concealed weapons meshing and sorting things out under extreme pressure that only police are prepared to deal with.

It is true that young adults with CCW permits are out there off-campuses now. It is also true that shooting episodes at places like Virginia Tech feature shooters who won’t play by the rules and who likely suffer from mental illness, according to FBI statistics. About 30 percent of the mass shooting episodes since 2000 have occurred in school settings, but only a fraction of those on college campuses.

If lack of training is the top issue, liability for the student, the university and maybe even the State of Idaho, has to be a close second.

I took Masterson’s advice and watched an ABC news look at the pressure young shooters might be under during a campus shooting siege http://youtu.be/8QjZY3WiO9s . It is worth a watch.

I hope McKenzie and the Idaho House members who will next consider his bill will give law enforcement a hearing and they will watch the video Masterson recommends.

When it happens in real time on an Idaho campus and people get hurt it will be too late.

Posted in Hello Idaho