Missouri Legislators consider guns for educators

By Matthew Hunt

January 30, 2013

Discussions about a Missouri House Bill have left university faculty with concerns. HB 70 would give professors the right to conceal and carry guns on campus during school hours. Western’s faculty have voiced its opinion on whether it agree with the message the bill is trying to achieve. Dr. Robert Vartabedian, university president and Dr. Robert Bergland, Faculty Senate president both stand in opposition of HB 70. Bergland said he wouldn’t like to see anyone carry firearms on campus outside of campus security. “There are more chances of things going wrong, than there would be a chance of guns serving as a deterrent,” Bergland said. Faculty’s been portrayed as educated, intelligent individuals who are stable enough to handle guns on campus said Representative Mike Kelley (R-Lamar). He said he knows of faculty who hide the fact that they conceal and carry on school grounds illegally. The bill would relieve them of hiding the guns. Dr. David Tushaus, professor of legal studies, said he stands in opposition of HB 70. He said he doesn’t know of any legitimate research that supports allowing guns to be carried by teachers while in school. “In fact, more research is needed on effective ways to reduce violence,” Tushaus said. “I am not convinced more guns make us safer.” In recent years, most shootings that have occurred in the United States are in gun-free zones which happen to be schools. Dr. Steven Greiert, chairman of the history department, said he supports the bill and believes faculty with proper training and responsibility should be given the chance to conceal and carry on campus. “Let’s face it, a lot of people doing these school shootings are mentally ill,” Greiert said. “We can’t prevent everything that happens in the world, but if we have trained people then they should be allowed to carry.” The faculty members who were interviewed were in agreement that they don’t see the need for guns on campus. Dr. Edwin Taylor, assistant professor of political science, said as a faculty member he also doesn’t support the bill. He said he doesn’t own a gun and doesn’t have any intentions on buying one if the bill passes. “Arming faculty members would do little to improve the safety of the campus community and would only increase the probability of gun related accidents,” Taylor said. The Faculty Senate hasn’t met with Vartabedian to discuss the matter of allowing guns on campus during business hours. Bergland said that if the bill progresses out of committee, then he thinks there would a vote from the faculty to either support or oppose the bill.