Senate committee hears arguments on campus carry bill

Published: Apr. 18, 2019 at 3:46 PM CDT
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Thursday, lawmakers in the Missouri Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety committee had the chance to hear arguments on the campus carry bill that was passed in the state House last week.

That bill, House Bill 575, would allow full time faculty at Missouri colleges and universities to volunteer to become a "campus protection officer." They would train, and be allowed to carry a gun on campus.

One person spoke in favor of the bill, but 16 people spoke against it.

CG: Brynn Davis | Student, University of Missouri

CG: Sen. Cindy O'Laughlin | (R) Shelbina

CG: Rep. Dean Dohrman | (R) Sedalia

"We do not have any issue with the underlying bill, Representative Dohrman's campus protection officers. The issues we have are with the amendments that were added on the floor," said Paul Wagner, Director of the Council on Higher Education.

That is where almost all of the people who spoke out in opposition to House Bill 575 said their issues were.

The amendment with the biggest opposition would allow any students or faculty who have a conceal carry permit to carry their gun on college and university campuses in the state.

"Introducing firearms into that volatile environment would be a huge, huge mistake from my perspective," said Sam Cohen, Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Missouri.

Cohen says students are under a lot of stress, and often deal with different emotional and mental health issues.

Brynn Davis, a Mizzou student agreed.

She cited statistics from the Centers for Disease Control that show gun deaths by suicide outnumber gun deaths by homicide.

"If someone tries to kill themselves with a gun, they'll more than likely succeed," Davis told the committee. "I think that is really problematic when you give a bunch of mentally unstable kids the opportunity to have guns."

Republican Senator Cindy O'Laughlin of Shelbina disagreed.

"It isn't any more stressful now than it was then," O'Laughlin said. I think our young adults need to be taught to be resilient and be able to manage conflict."

The bill's sponsor, Representative Dean Dohrman, a Sedalia Republican, says there will still be restrictions on when and where people would be able to carry on campuses, saying this won't be a bill where everyone can carry anywhere.

"There are still some areas that will be off limits for those who even have that CCW permit, and there is still some ability for the universities and colleges to put in a policy concerning the carry of those arms on campus," Dohrman said.

No vote was taken in committee on the bill Thursday.

It does have two other amendments, one that would set up a STEM Education scholarship, another that would prohibit colleges and universities from requiring students to live on campus past their freshman year.

We have link to the full bill in the Related Items section of this article.