Gunshot disrupts professor’s class

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Pocatello, Idaho - An Idaho State University assistant professor with a concealed-carry gun permit shot himself in the foot with a semiautomatic handgun that accidentally discharged from inside his pocket in a chemistry classroom full of students, police said on Wednesday.

No other injuries were reported and no charges have been filed in Tuesday's shooting in Pocatello in a building that is part of the university’s physical science department, according to Pocatello Police Lieutenant Paul Manning.

The instructor, who was treated and released from a local hospital, possessed a so-called enhanced concealed-carry permit that allowed him to carry a hidden gun on campus under a state law that went into effect on July 1.

Idaho’s Republican-led legislature passed the law allowing guns on university grounds earlier this year over the objection of the presidents of the state’s leading universities, including Idaho State, which was routinely ranked as one of the safest campuses in the United States.

In response to the new law, the university for the first time dispatched public safety officers armed with semiautomatic pistols to patrol the university’s south-eastern Idaho campus this summer to safeguard students and staff.

Those officers and Pocatello police responded to Tuesday's shooting, which college spokeswoman Adrienne King said did not pose an imminent threat to the school of 14 000 students nor require a lockdown or evacuations.

An examination of records dating to 1997 showed no other reports of an accidental shooting on campus, she said.

Manning said authorities are investigating why the small-calibre weapon discharged, whether it was fitted with a safety device and if the device was engaged at the time of the incident.

Guns are banned in areas of the physical science complex where there is nuclear research but are allowed under the new law in the chemistry lab where the firearm went off, King said.

Nineteen students are enrolled in the chemistry course but it was unclear how many were on hand when the incident took place, King said. She declined to release the name of the instructor, citing privacy laws tied to personnel matters.

“Idaho State University is in compliance with the Idaho gun law. Wednesday’s incident was an unfortunate accident,” university President Arthur Vailas said in a statement.

The university is likely to conduct an administrative review of the incident after a probe by Pocatello police, officials said. - Reuters

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