Carrying a concealed weapon is legal in all 50 states, yet there are 10 states where it is still illegal to do so on a college campus with, or without a permit.
Just two years ago, a law was passed in Missouri to allow the carrying of weapons without any formal training or state-issued permit.
But, carrying a gun on college campuses still is forbidden, at least for now.
A bill sponsored this session by State Rep. Dean Dohrman, R-La Monte, is renewing the college campus and gun rights debate all over the state of Missouri.
On April 9, the House passed HB 575 with an amendment by State Rep. Jared Taylor, R-Republic, (House Bill 258) that would add language to several existing state statutes to allow weapons to be carried into a public higher education institution or public elementary or secondary school without the consent of the body governing the school.
In Franklin County the idea of concealed carry at the community college campus in Union has a mixed reception.
East Central College President Dr. Jon Bauer says the bill is a mistake and bad legislative policy.
“I have lots of concerns and I have expressed those concerns to area legislators,” Bauer said. “My highest priority is to have the safest campus as possible. I fail to see where this legislation does that. I’m concerned this does the opposite.”
Bauer added he is disappointed in the actions of the House.
“We don’t permit weapons on campus, period,” he said. “The college has taken extra safety measures such as installing security cameras, improving communication. We are partnering with the city to have Union Police on campus. That’s the appropriate way to make campuses safer.”
Despite Bauer’s objections, all four House lawmakers representing Franklin County support the measure.
State Rep. John Simmons, R-Krakow, whose district ECC lies within, explained Dorhman’s bill would allow colleges to designate faculty or staff as campus protection officers after certain training and with a CCW permit.
The amendment, offered by Rep. Taylor, only applied to CCW permit holders who have had proper, responsible training.
“A student’s Second Amendment rights do not end just because they reside or take classes on a college campus,” Simmons said. “I am in support of women or anyone who wants the ability to protect themselves. I want to ensure my daughter, and any other female (or male) college student has the ability and the inherent right to defend themselves and self-protect their life, their liberty and property. While law enforcement is good, they are not everywhere, all the time.”
Simmons added he has received emails both supporting and opposing the measure.
State Rep. Aaron Griesheimer, R-Washington, whose 61st District covers a portion of Gasconade County, where State Technical College is located in Linn, said heagrees with the original bill that would allow faculty and staff to carry.
“In my district, I believe the Board of Regents (State Technical College of Missouri) should be allowed to permit faculty and staff members to carry a concealed firearm on campus,” Griesheimer said. “However, those individuals should be required to submit a valid concealed carry permit.”
State Rep. Dottie Bailey, R- Eureka, says she carried in college but was trained as a young kid.
“If a college kid is trained and respects the weapon and understands everything about it and the implications I see nothing wrong with defending themselves and exercising their Second Amendment right,” Bailey said. “The folks on the other side of the aisle don’t want us to defend ourselves from harm.”
Bailey said she spoke on the (House) floor the other day because basically they (Democrats) said women could never fight back from someone trying to rape them.
“I disagree 1000 percent,” Bailey said. “Defending ourselves from assault or murder is our basic more dear right and I surely agree. I would never back down if being assaulted and if I had my weapon it would give me a better chance of survival.”
State Rep. Nathan Tate, R-St. Clair, says gun-free zones are soft targets for someone who wants to inflict harm because they know they will be met with little to no resistance.
“As a gun loving individual myself, I feel I should be able to carry wherever I want,” Tate said. “We could debate whether or not a CCW should be required for some areas, but I feel I should always have the right to carry everywhere I go. More specifically, if my children are on a college campus, they should be afforded every right available to them to defend themselves from all kinds of harm.”
After passing the House last week, the bill has now been assigned to the Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee, but no public hearing has yet been scheduled.