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Dear Representative Harris,

Idaho’s concealed carry laws are some of the most liberal in the country ensuring law-abiding citizens their right to keep and bear arms, however, Sheriffs and Police Chiefs oppose House Bill 203 because we believe it’s a bridge too far, and bad for Idaho, and bad for Idaho children.

School administrators and elected school boards have the responsibility of providing reasonable policies to promote school safety and we believe such an important decision as to who should carry a firearm on school grounds should be kept local. Additionally, if local law enforcement does respond to a gun incident at a school, things are confusing enough without having extra people carrying guns. We believe there is great potential for confrontations under such conditions that could have tragic consequences.

We’ve heard the argument that schools are in a “free fire zone” because guns aren’t allowed so only criminals will bring guns to schools. It is more likely, in our opinion, that firearms in schools will lead to an accidental shooting rather than an increase in student safety. Additionally, local school boards should be able to determine if their own employees should not be carrying firearms to work in our schools. They have a right and a responsibility to know who is carrying a deadly weapon around their students.

In closing, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was arguably one of the most conservative Supreme Court Justices in modern times and he was firm in that the Second Amendment is not absolute. He wrote the majority opinion in the landmark Heller decision where he confirmed the 2nd Amendment protects an individual’s right to own a firearm. His majority opinion, in part read, “The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

Justice Scalia recognized that schools are a “sensitive” place and should be free from firearms. We believe that Idaho should continue to share his philosophy and allow schools to control who can and cannot possess a firearm for the protection of students.

Sincerely,

The Idaho Sheriffs’ Association and Idaho Chiefs of Police Association

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Ben Wolfinger is the Kootenai County Sheriff and a member of the Idaho Sheriffs Association.

Craig Kingsbury is the Twin Falls Chief of Police and a member of the Idaho Chiefs of Police Association.

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