Guns on Campus: How You Can Make a Difference

Photo courtesy Ben Earwicker; Garrison Photography, Boise, ID

Recently, the Idaho Senate Committee has proposed a bill that would allow guns on campus at Boise State University.  Although our president, Bob Kustra, has adamently voiced that this bill is not something that Boise State wishes to enforce, the Senate Committee has nonetheless continued to push the bill. Boise State political science major, Jacob Nelson, sat down with Her Campus Boise State this week to discuss why he plans on writing a letter to both his senator and the governer-- and why you should do the same. 

Her Campus Boise State: On February 12, 2014, a bill that would allow concealed weapons on campus was moved to the full State Senate-- what does this mean for students?

Jacob Nelson: From my understanding, if the bill gets passed in the State Senate, it goes to the governer and he either vetoes the bill or signs off on it. So effectively Butch Otter can say yes or no.

HC: Do you feel that the bill is something that should be passed?

JN: No. I think it puts more students in danger rather than protecting us. It’s a tough question. I believe that people should have the right to own a gun. However, it is my understanding that allowing guns on campus makes it harder for law enforcement to do their job. 

HC: What sort of dilemmas do you think law enforcement would face if guns were permitted on campus?

JN: If you want to look at an extreme situation... say there's a shooting on campus. If everyone is carrying a gun, some students may decide to shoot back. In that case it’s hard for law enforcement to determine who the shooter is. Local law enforcement is completely against this bill for that exact reason. To me it seems like if the president of Boise State and other campuses as well as law enforcement throughout Idaho are opposing this bill, we shouldn't pass it. 

HC: What would you say if someone told you they feel safer knowing that they can carry a weapon on campus? 

JN: I would ask them, “Do you feel unsafe right now?” If a students says he/she would feel "safer" carrying a gun... to me that statement implies that the student does not feel safe as is. I’m sure that people who have grown up around guns, currently own guns, and know how to properly handle guns DO feel safer when they’re holding a gun – but it’s hard for me to understand that perspective. I don’t feel unsafe on campus and guns make me nervous, even though I grew up around guns.

HC: How are you taking a stand against this bill passing in the State Senate?

JN: Firstly, I'm educating myself on the issue. I’ve used the link that President Kustra sent out to every student and read the bill myself. I’ve already started to write a letter to my local senator and the governer. 

HC: Do you think your opinion along with other students’ opinions will make a difference?

JN: That’s a hard question. I believe in our government’s process. I do believe in it. From my point of view, writing a letter is already making a difference because it shows that you care-- so yes, I do believe that it makes a difference.

HC: What advice do you have for other Boise State students who would like to express their opinions to their local senator and/or the governor? 

JN: The most important piece of advice is to be honest. Make sure that you are articulating what you want to say and not completely rambling. I’m sure that the governor and senators' staffs have many letters they have to read through. Tell them your message in a formal manner. This is not a sloppy letter to your friend... if you want the letter to be taken seriously by the government, then write it seriously! Don’t use abbreviations and don’t use improper grammar. Make it to the point. Explain your concerns, why you have those concerns, and give them a reason why they should vote your way.