Missouri Considers Legislation That Would Allow Concealed Carry on College Campuses
BY COURTNEY GALLAGHER
EDITOR IN CHIEF
Two bills that would allow permit holders to carry concealed firearms on college campuses were considered by Missouri lawmakers last Monday at a public hearing.
If either proposal becomes law, the current ban on the possession of firearms on college campuses would be lifted, and schools wishing to prohibit concealed weapons could apply for an exemption.
Under House Bill 1910, sponsored by Republican Rep. Mike Kelley, colleges and universities would need to receive permission from the state Department of Higher Education and pass certain safety requirements, which include placing armed security and metal detectors at every door, before being approved to opt out.
According to the Associated Press, researchers estimate the bill could cost Missouri colleges a combined total of $991 million to meet the safety requirements for exemption in the first year.
Republican Rep. Jered Taylor’s House Bill 2698 is estimated to have no costs associated with it.
His proposed bill would change the law to allow concealed carry on all public higher education campuses, but would allow schools to make exceptions in certain locations, such as areas with grade school children, some sporting events and hospitals.
Similar bills by Missouri state senators Brian Munzlinger and Bob Dixon had hearings with the Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee in January and were brought to the Senate panel, but have not yet received a committee vote.
Republican lawmakers argue that changing campus concealed carry laws increases safety, saying that law-abiding citizens with proper training can save lives during mass shootings and that individuals should have the ability to carry firearms for self-defense.
“Honestly, I don’t think it would be a bad idea,” McKenzie Koelling, ’17, said about the possible lift on the concealed carry ban. “It is always good to have some sort of defense, especially with all of the things that have been occurring lately. It isn’t the guns that kill people.”
While Koelling supports the proposed bills, she said she would like to see psychological tests conducted before gun owners are allowed to carry concealed firearms on campus.
Many university administrators across Missouri oppose the bills and have cited the high number of mental health issues among college students as one reason they believe guns on campus would do more harm than good. They say allowing guns where there are high levels of binge drinking would increase safety concerns.
“I don’t think the bills are a good idea,” Jordyn Williams, ’17, said. “I wouldn’t feel safe in a classroom, knowing that the kid sitting next to me might have a gun in their book bag. I don’t think I would be able to attend a college that allowed guns on campus because I would never feel safe.”
Missouri is currently one of 19 states that ban carrying a concealed weapon on a college campus. In 23 states, the individual college or university makes the decision, and in eight states there are provisions that allow for concealed carry on higher education campuses.
Some educators are not only concerned about the perceived level of safety but also the laws potential impact on academics. According to the Houston Chronicle, faculty at the University of Houston were suggested to avoid tense situations in the classroom and be careful discussing sensitive or controversial topics after Texas became the eighth state to pass a campus concealed carry bill.
Do you think these bills would affect your education? Would you feel more or less safe if one of these bills becomes Missouri law? Share your thoughts in the comments.