Springfield, MO A recently-enacted law in Arkansas allows staff at colleges and university to conceal and carry guns. Supporters say the move will provide an extra sense of safety and security for students and staff during an active shooter situation. Now, Missouri Representative Dean Dohrman (R) has introduced similar legislation.
Under this proposal, each college or university would have to have designated faculty members with a concealed carry weapon. Only campus safety agencies would know which staff members are carrying.
"It would just give our board of trustees another tool that they could use to- if they felt like they needed heightened security," said Dr. Hal Higdon, Chancellor of Ozark Technical Community College.
Those chosen could be professors, security officers, or whoever the school decides. Dr. Higdon says OTC is already ahead of the game.
"We have an armed security police force where they are trained, which some other schools do not. So, we have that advantage, and in some way, it wouldn't really be that much of an effect on us. But, I don't see an issue with it because it does allow local control."
Dr. Higdon says, if the proposaed law becomes a reality, not much would change at OTC. the current armed officers would continue to be such- there would not be professors packing heat.
There are some potential drawbacks to the proposed law. For one, some educators and lawmakers have pointed out; it might be impossible for police to arrive on an active shooter situation, see two individuals with a gun, and be able to decipher the "good guy" from the "bad guy." Also, schools would be on the hook financially for an increase in laibility insuanve preomuk that result in adding armed staff.
We reached out to Drury University, which said it couldn't comment on the pending legislation. However, the school did issue a statement, which explained, "Drury has a 24/7 security presence on campus. We have two major prongs to this effort, which work closely together: our own security staff and SPD. We have an SPD substation on campus and two full-time SPD officers assigned to Drury. We have an excellent working relationship with SPD, and their officers work hand-in-glove with our security staff, dean of students office, and administration. Drury also has a text alert system that can quickly notify all students and employees in cases of emergency or caution. Additionally, we do regular training events on campus. The last several years we have had active shooter drills and employed the “run, hide, fight” tactics that are current best-practice."
MSU was unable to return our calls by news time.
Meanwhile, OTC says it will be watching to see what happens with the proposed law.
Higdon said, "I have noticed politicians (when they are local politicians) don't want the state telling them what to do until they start working for the state. Then, they don't want the federal government telling them what to do until they go to the federal government. And, I think local control, local decisions are best made locally. And this bill does allow for local control."