On Sept. 2 during the second week of classes at Idaho State University (ISU), assistant professor of Chemistry Byron Bennett was lecturing to about 20 students when a small caliber semiautomatic gun he was carrying in his pocket accidentally discharged. The incident occurred in the university’s Physical Science Complex building. None of the students were injured in the accidental shooting.
The instructor who shot himself in the foot was treated at the nearby Portneuf Medical Center and released, according to Reuters. Bennett maintains a valid concealed-carry gun permit according to police in Pocatello, Idaho. Beginning July 1, a new law went into effect in Idaho allowing individuals to carry a concealed weapon on campus.
The Idaho State Journal, which revealed the Chemistry professor’s identity, also shared that in addition to maintaining a valid Idaho Enhanced Concealed Weapons Permit, Bennett also possesses an Idaho Basic Concealed Weapons Permit and a Utah Concealed Weapons Permit. Regarding the accidental discharge of his handgun, Lieutenant Paul Manning with the Pocatello Police Department said that no charges have been filed against the instructor who has been teaching at ISU since 2007.
Officials investigating the incident are in the process of interviewing all of the students who were in Bennett’s class when his gun went off. Adrienne King, a spokesperson for the university, said that upon completion of the formal police investigation into the accident, an ISU administrative review could be forthcoming.
King said officials assessed the situation Tuesday and quickly determined that it was an isolated incident. However if anyone on campus had been in imminent danger, a campus-wide alert would have been sent out.
The new law allowing persons to have concealed weapons on Idaho college campuses was passed into state law last year. The Enhanced Concealed Weapons Permit requires that individuals must undergo additional training in the use of firearms. For more on the new concealed weapons law in Idaho, see the video accompanying this article.
In compliance with the law, ISU trained and armed its Public Safety officers and developed a policy to address the campus carry law.
President Arthur Vailas was among a number of university presidents and law enforcement officials who opposed the campus carry law.