Recently proposed legislation that would allow concealed carry on campus has ignited controversy over gun control at MU.
Three Republican state senators introduced two bills that would legalize carrying concealed weapons on college campuses across Missouri.
Senators Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, and David Sater, R-Cassville, sponsored Senate Bill 589, which would lift the current ban on carrying concealed weapons at institutions of higher education.
Sen. Brian Munzlinger, R-Williamstown, sponsored Senate Bill 731, which would lift the ban, but allows for the institutions to ban concealed firearms under specific conditions.
If a higher education institution did choose to ban concealed weapons, under SB 731, the college would have to implement electronic weapon screening devices and security personnel at every entrance to every building on campus. Those who are carrying concealed weapons would have to leave their concealed firearms with the security staff at the entrance.
The sponsors were all unable to be reached for comment on the bills.
The proposed legislation is only the latest in controversy over the legality of concealed carry on campus. Last fall, law professor Royce de R. Barondes filed suit against MU over the constitutionality of the university’s ban of firearms, an action that sparked discussion among students over the practicality and benefits of firearms on campus.
The bills' supporters
There seems to be some support for allowing concealed carry on campus, according to a Twitter poll done by the College Democrats of Missouri Twitter account.
Do you believe that Missouri college students should be allowed to carry concealed handguns on college campuses?— College Dems of MO (@CollegeDemsMO) January 31, 2016
Mizzou College Republicans Executive Director Dallas Ernst said he should have a right to feel safe and defend himself, even on a college campus, per the Missouri Constitution. The Missouri Right to Bear Arms, Amendment 5, which gave the constitutional right to concealed carry, was approved in August 2014.
“Criminals, they don’t care if there’s a gun law or not,” Ernst said. “They are going to go where they can cause the most harm the quickest. My right to defend myself shouldn’t end when I decide to get a college education.”
Concealed carry concerns
When the bill was introduced in the state Senate, several members from the Associated Students of the University of Missouri, along with some other interest groups, went to protest the bills.
A candidate to represent Missouri’s 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House, state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-St. Louis, tweeted a picture of those who opposed the two bills.
Mizzou Students for Bernie President Sam Willoh said he sees the logic behind concealed carry but is most concerned about the amount of training the average citizen would have to go through.
“A lot of the gun deaths in this country are accidental.” Willoh said. “So if we’re arming everyone in here, and someone forgets to put on the safety or moves in the wrong way, it can result in disaster. That’s what terrifies me.”
In order to get a concealed carry license in Missouri, applicants have to meet a set of requirements listed by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Requirements include not being a convicted of a felony, having no weapon-related misdemeanor convictions and receiving the necessary eight-hour course firearm training.
Freshman Chalmers Gordon said he doesn’t “trust Mizzou with guns.” He said his opposition to the bills partially stems from a personal experience he endured in August 2015.
“Me and a couple of buddies were street racing in East St. Louis,” Gordon said. “A guy up ahead of us had a blow-out, and when we went to check up on him, he pulled a gun out.”
The gunman fired a warning shot into the air, Gordon said.
“He was only several feet away from me … I could have died,” Gordon said.
Edited by Hailey Stolze | firstname.lastname@example.org