Idaho lawmakers consider increased security at the Capitol

idahocapitol.jpgIdaho lawmakers are considering increased security at the state Capitol after a man carrying a handgun used a tour for Boy Scouts as cover to inspect legislators’ desks, and reach into a waste bin on the House floor.

The Jan. 10 incident became public last week when Department of Administration Director Teresa Luna used a clip to demonstrate the need for rules prompted by last year’s Occupy Boise encampment. Now under review by lawmakers, the new rules don’t deal with the inside of the Capitol.

But the video of the man’s actions shocked legislative leaders into exploring beefing up security. Currently, guns of all kinds are allowed at the Capitol, and Idaho State Police say the man committed no crime.

As a result of heightened concerns, public access to the House and Senate chambers has been suspended on weekends and after 6 p.m. weekdays, though the Capitol remains open until 10 p.m. Until now, citizens have been allowed to visit the chambers whenever the Capitol was open.

Leadership is working with the Department of Administration to fashion long-term security improvements for the Capitol.

Guns and long knives were banned in the Capitol from 1996 to 2008 by executive order. Governor Butch Otter let the order expire, citing a 2008 law in which the Legislature said it had exclusive power to regulate guns in Idaho.  (Idaho Statesman)

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