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Compromise Guns in Schools Bill Dies in Senate Committee

March 15, 2024

A compromise gun bill allowing school district employees to carry concealed weapons during school hours was defeated in a close 5-4 vote in the Senate State Affairs committee on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 1418, sponsored by Sen. Jim Guthrie (R-McCammon), would have required school districts to develop a policy allowing staff to carry guns, but setting strong restrictions and requiring significant training for those who do so. It was drafted as an alternative to the controversial House Bill 415, a bill largely written by the National Rifle Association that had few restrictions on who could carry guns on school campuses.

IEA’s Role with Compromise Bill

While the Idaho Education Association remained neutral on Senate Bill 1418, it played a significant role in drafting the compromise legislation after the outcry from IEA members over House Bill 415, which was sponsored by Rep. Ted Hill (R-Eagle). Guthrie, who also chairs the committee, refused to release House Bill 415 for a committee hearing while he worked with stakeholders on the compromise bill.

“Senator Guthrie’s approach to Senate Bill 1418 is exactly how thoughtful policy is made,” said Chris Parri, IEA’s political director, who represented IEA members in the negotiations around the compromise. “He brought all of the stakeholders together and talked with them about the legislation. He listened and adapted to their needs. That’s a huge contrast to the process of drafting House Bill 415 — a copy-and-paste bill straight from the NRA’s Virginia offices.”

Despite the collaborative approach to the bill — or perhaps because of it — some opposed the legislation as too restrictive. In fact, the NRA derided the new bill as “a wishlist for those opposed to 415.”

Local Control Over the Policy

While Senate Bill 1418 required school districts to develop a policy around guns on school campuses, it also gave local school boards significant oversight of the policy’s development. It also mandated local law enforcement’s involvement in the development of the school district policy. Those kinds of sideboards were not included in House Bill 415 and were too much for gun advocates.

“The school districts and school boards dictating are going to actually prevent anything from actually happening,” said Robert Gillis of Idaho Tough on Crime and a retired police officer from Los Angeles.

For many committee members, however, the problem with Senate Bill 1418 wasn’t how restrictive or how collaborative it was. Instead, they felt the issue had more to do with gun rights than with school security.


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