Editor’s Note: In part two of our continuing series on the possession of concealed firearms on campus, Madeline Coles spoke with Public Safety officers to understand the details specific to carrying on campus.
For the past three years, students and faculty have been able to carry a weapon, defined as a firearm, knife with a blade of four inches or longer or any other deadly or dangerous weapon, on campus if they have an enhanced concealed carry permit or are retired law enforcement officers who have been issued a similar permit.
The university Policy on Possession of Firearms is up for its annual review, but Chief Security Officer and Director of Public Safety Lewis Eakins said the revisions will mainly be clarifications rather than actual policy changes.
As the policy currently stands, however, the only people authorized to carry on campus, aside from the permit holders stated above, are ISU Public Safety officers, private security guards who may lawfully carry firearms and are required by their job duties to carry firearms and to be on ISU property, and persons attending certain special events, such as on-campus gun shows.
The policy also outlines the list of buildings where firearms are prohibited, even with the enhanced carry permit. These buildings, which are marked with signs, include all on campus housing, the RISE Center, the Lillibridge Engineering Building, Albion Hall (which houses an elementary school) and any event buildings which hold more than 1,000 people, such as Holt Arena and the Stephens Performing Arts Center.
ISU Public Safety Officers are trained and qualified to be law enforcement officers, and have gone through the required training to carry a firearm, according to Assistant Director of Public Safety Vince Likes.
He added that officers have undergone training to ensure the safety of all on campus, and officers are only authorized to use their weapon in a situation in which they need to protect themselves or others.
“We have some great students, faculty and staff,” Eakins said. “We are fortunate to have the type of campus environment where we don’t really have to deal with these issues as much.”
Although Eakins said there have been a few instances of people open carrying on campus, they have largely been misunderstandings that were quickly diffused with a verbal warning.
“We just tell people they can’t carry open on campus, and often times they just didn’t know,” Eakins said. “We just have an outstanding campus. I can’t say it enough. We have very few people who contest what an officer says.”
However, if a student observes a person with a weapon, they are encouraged to contact either Public Safety or the Pocatello Police Department.
“We’re just here to enforce the law,” Eakins said.