Credit: Kyle Pfannenstiel
Participators in the March 14 walkout lying down for a moment of silence to recognize those lost to gun violence.
As of Thursday, March 22, 2018
BOISE More than a thousand Idaho students took to the Idaho State Capitol Wednesday, March 14, with a message for lawmakers.
“We want change.” “Enough is enough.” “NRA, go away.” “Hey-hey, ho-ho, gun violence has got to go.”
Those were just a few of the chants that Idaho students recited as they participated in one of the hundreds of walkouts with students across the nation in the wake of the shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. on Feb. 14.
“Let the teachers teach, let the students learn. Lawmakers, it is on you,” one student said at the rally.
One of the candidates in the gubernatorial race, former Democratic Rep. Paulette Jordan, spoke at the walkout.
“I know how frustrating it has been for me as a mom, a voter and a legislator to watch our government’s incomplete action in the wake of these tragedies,” she said after naming off just a few of the mass shootings over the past decade.
Jordan continued, “to watch the inaction of our public officials and know that you cannot vote any of them out of office until November sixth. While many of you don’t have a vote, you show the world that you do have a voice.”
After a few more speeches on the capital’s front steps from students calling up lawmakers to change gun laws, the marchers went inside the state capitol — while both chambers were in session — and continued their chants.
It’s unclear if Idaho lawmakers will act on gun control measures this session, which is due to end in less than two weeks. Legislative leadership conveyed their stances yesterday at a press event.
“There are things we need to do within our schools to help so that kids don’t get into these mental problems,” said Senate President Pro-Tempore Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, at the annual Idaho Press Club legislative luncheon. “It’s not just gun violence, it’s suicide. It’s bullying. It’s lack of respect for educators. And I think as we strengthen our homes we will help avoid those terrorist type problems and some of those mental illness problems.
“I’m not saying the other things aren’t important. I don’t know what all the answers are. I’m not saying it should be at the federal level or the state level. I leave it up to smart people on that,” Hill said. “I think it makes some sense we need to be looking at background checks in certain circumstances. I don’t have an assault rifle, it’s just not something I’m into that much, but I think we need to look at all of the areas of this complex problem.”
House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, shared the same concerns around background checks.
“We have to have a conversation about background checks and tying it to mental health records. Until we are willing to do that, we are willing to fall short to provide safety measures for our high schools and all schools,” Erpelding said.
– Kyle Pfannenstiel covers the 2018 Idaho Legislature for the University of Idaho McClure Center for Public Policy Research.