TWIN FALLS, Idaho • A day after the governor signed a bill allowing concealed guns on campus, school administrators are staging a rebellion.
College of Southern Idaho President Jeff Fox said Thursday he is hearing rumblings that leaders on public school campuses at the Blaine, Cassia and Gooding outreach centers are considering a policy barring guns on their campuses, despite what the law says.
On Wednesday, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter signed into law a bill to allow concealed guns on Idaho’s public college campuses. Otter signed SB 1254 despite opposition from all eight presidents of Idaho’s colleges and universities and most Idaho police chiefs.
The loophole that could let the CSI satellites keep guns off their campuses is the fact that they lease their property from local K-12 school districts.
It’s a gray area, and state officials are waiting on legal advice, said Marilyn Whitney, spokeswoman for the Idaho Board of Education. But it’s her understanding that concealed weapons wouldn’t be allowed if the campus is shared with K-12 schools. Public K-12 schools must follow the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act, which was adopted in 1990.
SB 1254 takes effect July 1. The language of the law does not include any triggers, sanctions or punishments if a college or university refuses to allow guns on campus. The only recourse would be for a student to take the school to court if he or she had a conceal carry permit and was denied the right to have a gun on campus.
Without a trigger in the law, the only other response available to lawmakers could be withholding funds from the offending school.
CSI receives a little more than 30 percent of its academic funding from the state, or $30.8 million in the 2014 fiscal year, estimates CSI spokesman Doug Maughan. He said about half of CSI’s budget is funded through tuition and fees, and the remaining 20 percent comes through the community college taxing district.
Fox said enforcing the guns on campus could cost CSI $100,000 to $150,000.
He met with other community college presidents Wednesday in Boise about having a unified response to the law.
“We are trying to craft policies in response to the public school issue,” he said.
In a Thursday email to CSI employees, Fox wrote, “I understand the anxiety and concern many of you feel over this bill.”