ISU Decides to Cancel Order for 11 AR-15 Rifles

Idaho State University made the decision to purchase 11 AR-15 rifles, but has now reversed the decision and canceled the order, according to the university’s Associate Vice President for ISU Facilities Phil Moessner.

Moessner said of the canceled gun order, “We realized that by the time we were to contain the situation, PPD, the SWAT team, or other folks who are better trained at that particular part of that operation would be available, so it seemed, redundant to the other capabilities we are capable of in the community.”

The decision came after a meeting was held with Pocatello Police, Idaho State Police and various other law enforcement agencies in an attempt to fully inform the Idaho State University administration determine the best equipment to have on hand should the need for heavier equipment depending on the situation presented.

The southeastern Idaho school initially felt that the rifles were a good safety measure to have on hand in case a shooting occurred on campus. Moessner said, “The original decision to purchase the weapons had to do with how we would deal with an active shooter on campus.”

However, there were some flags raised by law enforcement in regards to the questionable actions of some of the Idaho State University campus safety unit, according to the Associated Press. Adrienne King, ISU spokeswoman, argues this point and says that the situation is not related to the purchase of the AR-15’s.

One of the situations cited as questionable occurred in September when an ISU assistant professor shot himself in the foot during a lecture during a chemistry class. The shot was reportedly fired after a firearm discharged while it was in the assistant professor’s pocket. An official with the Pocatello city police claims that campus security waited to call the situation in and had nearly cleaned up the entire scene by the time the police arrived.

Another incident of note occurred in December when the Idaho State Police director revoked the use of red flashing lights by security officers on their vehicles. The revocation came in light of reports of officers using the red lights improperly both on and off campus. The lights are not to be used to stop drivers, but Idaho State Police officials say the campus security officers did indeed use them for this purpose while issuing traffic tickets.

The instances of campus police extending their bounds of authority are many, as is noted by the Associated Press. Safety officers on the ISU campus are not part of a designated campus police department and have limited authority in terms of how they are able to respond to situations.

The cancellation of the 11 AR-15’s comes just a week after the retirement of ISU’s Director of Public Safety, Stephen Chatterton, was announced. Chatterton held his position as Director of Public Safety for 23 years and the timing of his retirement has raised some questions about a possible connection to issues with campus security and the cancellation of the gun purchase. However, Moessner insists that the situations are not related.

King said, “It was an administrative decision based on our reassessment of what we would do in case of an active shooter on campus. We do have a good working relationship with out local law enforcement and if we did have something like that we would seek out their assistance.”

Security officers on the ISU campus are currently armed with Glock 9mm handguns after state legislation was passed in 2014 which permitted concealed weapons to be carried on the campuses of colleges and universities in Idaho. ISU security officers are required to maintain all qualification requirements to handle a firearm and must do so on a yearly basis.

Moessner notes that the cancellation of the rifle order will in turn save the university from spending funds on the weapons themselves, but also in the cost of training the campus security officers. The Idaho State Journal reports that Moessner has also said that the university may be responsible for a portion of the rifle costs despite canceling the order. The expected to be paid remains unknown as Moessner did not provide the Idaho State Journal with an estimate.

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