BOISE -- By an 11-8 vote, House Bill 222 is one step closer to becoming law. The House State Affairs Committee voted Thursday to send to the full House, a bill that would allow people to carry concealed weapons on Idaho's public university and college campuses, except in undergraduate residence halls.
Similar to public testimony against education reform, lawmakers passed the bill despite the majority of testimony being against the bill.
"What we're asking is that members of society that have concealed weapons permits, and are law abiding, have the option to defend themselves," said Matthew Degalon with the National Rifle Association.
Self defense is one of the arguments made by those in favor of the bill. There were references to the Virginia Tech shootings stating that if the university had allowed guns on campus someone might have been able to stop the shooter before police arrived - nine minutes into the shooting.
"Nine minutes is a lifetime when someone is firing a gun at you," said Degalon.
The other argument in favor of the bill is our right as U.S. citizens to bear arms.
"I think we had a very good healthy debate," said Rep. Erik Simpson, "but when it all came down to making a decision it was the Second Amendment to the Constitution that won out."
Opponents say there's no need to fix something that is not broken.
"It's not a problem, so why are we looking to take away the power that each entity has to make their own policies when there really hasn't been an issue," said Joe Black, University of Idaho student.
Marty Peterson with the University of Idaho says his campus is already safe with the current policy to prohibit guns.
"With the approval of this bill the campus isn't going to be any safer,” said Peterson. “We know that because it couldn't be much safer than it currently is.”
Former Idaho House Speaker Bruce Newcomb, who now works for Boise State University, testified against the bill. He says just because someone has a legal right to carry a gun doesn’t mean they would be ready to step up in a time of need.
"When you pull a gun in that situation, you had better be ready to pull the trigger, and you better be ready to kill, and don't think there's a lot of us that have a concealed weapons permit that have that kind of training and are ready to shoot," said Newcomb.
Both those for and against this bill say they appreciated a good healthy debate. Those against the bill say they will fight as long as it takes to defeat it.
"I'm going to have a struggle each step of the way, and I understand that, but luckily I'll have some folks in support on the House floor speaking in favor, and I think they'll help carry the bill through the House," said Simpson.
Under current Idaho law, each university or college has the authority to make the decision on whether to prohibit firearms on campus.