ID sheriff: more concealed gun permits would boost public safety
8/8/2007, 6:45 p.m. PDT
The Associated Press
MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) — The sheriff of a north-central Idaho county where a shooting rampage left four dead and three wounded last May wants more people to obtain concealed weapons permits and carry guns, including on the University of Idaho campus, to improve public safety.
"In my opinion, if there were more students with (concealed weapons permits), the world would be safer," Latah County Sheriff Wayne Rausch told the Lewiston Tribune on Tuesday. "Just because we (law enforcement officers) are charged with protecting the public, doesn't mean the public shouldn't be able to protect itself."
The university bans guns except under supervised circumstances at its firing range. Except for law enforcement officials, the university requires that firearms "be transported to the range unloaded, encased, with a trigger lock attached or otherwise rendered inoperable."
Rausch's idea also contradicts Moscow Mayor Nancy Chaney, who late last month asked for a legal opinion from the state attorney general's office on whether the city has the authority to ban both concealed and exposed weapons in public areas such as city buildings.
Late on May 19, Jason Hamilton killed his wife at their Moscow home before driving to the courthouse and firing some 200 gunshots into a sheriff's dispatch center. There, he killed one law enforcement officer and wounded two others, as well as wounding a man who armed himself and ran to help.
Hamilton then went to the nearby First Presbyterian Church, fatally shooting a caretaker. Hamilton fired as many as 80 rounds inside the church before taking his own life.
Tania Thompson, director of media relations at the university, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that school officials declined to comment about Rausch's push for more concealed weapons on campus.
Chaney did not immediately return a call from the AP.
Sgt. Brannon Jordan, who is still recovering from being shot by Hamilton that night, said he agrees with Rausch when it comes to having more concealed weapons, but added, "When I make contact with a person, I like to be the only one with a gun."
Rausch said people who apply for concealed weapons permits are screened, and are typically not a problem. He said some 540 people in the county now carry concealed weapons.
One of them showed up at Monday's City council meeting and said he was carrying a handgun.
"When seconds count, the cops are only minutes away," David Klingenberg, 36, told the meeting. "I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy."
Rausch is the only law enforcement officer in the county with the authority to issue concealed weapons permits to individuals.
"Most of those are good citizens," he said.
Rausch said that if Moscow officials ban guns in public buildings and parks, they will have to pay to enforce the ban.
"We don't have any system in the courthouse to back up the ban on guns," Rausch said. "The bad guy is going to go right through the door."
He said a metal detector screens people entering the federal building in Moscow, but that the county courthouse, City Hall and other public buildings in the county have no such systems.
Information from: Lewiston Tribune, http://www.lmtribune.com