A New Bill Is Set To Legalize Guns On Idaho Campuses, And This Professor Doesn't Approve

Professor Greg Hampikian has a question for Idaho lawmakers: When am I allowed to shoot a student? In a New York Times op-ed Thursday, Hampikian roasted a controversial bill currently under consideration in the Idaho legislature. If made law, it would allow students with firearm permits to carry guns on campus.

Hampikian is dubious of the idea, to say the least. In the letter, Hampikian satirically asks lawmakers to clarify some gray areas he has about his responsibilities as a professor, if forced to arm himself in the face of an also-armed student body.

For instance: How does he, as an armed bystander, handle a situation of escalating hostility between two armed students? How should he determine "which infractions may be treated as de facto capital crimes?":

I assume that if a student shoots first, I am allowed to empty my clip; but given the velocity of firearms, and my aging reflexes, I’d like to be proactive. For example, if I am working out a long equation on the board and several students try to correct me using their laser sights, am I allowed to fire a warning shot? If two armed students are arguing over who should be served next at the coffee bar and I sense escalating hostility, should I aim for the legs and remind them of the campus Shared-Values Statement (which reads, in part, “Boise State strives to provide a culture of civility and success where all feel safe and free from discrimination, harassment, threats or intimidation”)?

The bill has drawn opposition in much of Idaho: Several police chiefs have expressed concern over its potential impact, and all eight heads of Idaho's public universities are united in opposition. The president of Boise State, Bob Kustra, has voiced concern that allowing concealed guns onto campus would necessitate millions in additional security spending.

Thursday morning brought a small smattering of protesters to the Idaho statehouse in protest of the bill, which passed the state Senate 25-10 this month, and is being heard by a House panel today. It's expected to be approved.

If the small number of protesters seems dispiriting, well, it's been rough going for gun-control advocates lately. Earlier this month, California's gun-regulation laws were sorely wounded by a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.

This is in stark contrast to growing evidence of gun control's successes, with background checks in particular. But the fact remains, sadly, that indicators of gun control's efficacy — and a broad base of national support — appears less relevant than political zealotry and Congressional intractability.