BSU professor's op-ed 'When May I Shoot a Student?' makes headlines

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - A local professor is speaking out on Idaho's guns on campus bill, and his words are making national headlines.

Boise State University professor Greg Hampikian wrote a piece called "When May I Shoot a Student?" that is featured in The New York Times. The story is criticizing the controversial bill moving through the Idaho Legislature.

'You can only hope that what you write gets read," Hampikian said. "It's a very pleasant surprise how many people are reading it, enjoying it and reacting to it. That's exactly what a writer dreams about.

The New York Times tells KBOI they get hundreds of op-ed submissions every day, but editor Clay Risen said Hampikian's style and knowledge of the hot topic caught his eye.

"Greg Hampikian is a fantastic writer, but also has a sharp sense of the issue and it was one that spoke very directly to a particular place and a particular issue," Risen said. "That tension that everyone in the country is interested in was brought to a very sharp point by this essay so we felt it really had a great combination of local specificity and general interest."

Hampikian is known as a forensic DNA expert, and for his work with the Idaho Innocence Project. However, he said he has been frustrated with how the Idaho Legislature had handled the bill until Friday, when law enforcement officers were allowed to testify.

"To me, it's more the madness of the method," Hampikian said. "The fact that our legislature invited someone from the National Rifle Association to speak for 40 minutes and refused to allow our Chief of Police, the University President, the people actually responsible for our safety on campus to even speak? It's unreasonable."

Chief Mike Masterson was able to testify on Friday, and several people in opposition of the bill were also able to speak out.

Hampikian's story, which raises questions about scenarios that could play out on campus if students were allowed to carry guns, is already generating hundreds of comments on The New York Times website from around the country.

Hampikian said he hopes the story's comical nature will get serious conversations rolling around the country
"Satire is fun, that's why it works," he said. "I think comedy is the highest form of art, it's very difficult to do and I think it's a great way to address any serious issue. It gets people to talk I think in a more comfortable way and gets a lot of responses."