Missouri considers guns on college campuses

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Guns may be coming to campuses all across Missouri in the near future.
Senate Bill 731 and its identical House Bill 1910 would remove the current ban on conceal and carry weapons on college campuses. This means that anyone aged 19 and above who completes the required courses and registration associated with conceal and carry in the state would be legally allowed to carry a concealed weapon onto college campuses.
Risk Manager for Missouri Western, Tim Kissock, said that the university is content with current laws, but would follow any new laws if the university had to.
“We will certainly do whatever the legislature requires us to do and we’ll do it in good faith,” Kissock said. “We do feel that guns are a complex issue and right now conceal and carry weapons are not allowed on campus, and we are certainly not pushing for any changes to that legislation. We’re happy where we are right now.”
Kissock also said that special operations of colleges and universities warrant them being protected against conceal and carry laws.
“It’s an education setting,” Kissock said. “There are a lot of debates; there are a lot of young people, people living in the dorms. The reality is that there is drinking and some amount of drugs on every campus. To throw guns into that situation, on balance, we think would not make the campus community a safer place.”
Besides allowing guns into classrooms, one of the major things that this legislation would do is allow guns to be brought into the homes of those who live on campus.
Director of Residential Life Nathan Roberts said that the training provided to Resident Assistants would not change despite the change to guns laws in the state.
“From our perspective, I don’t think we would do anything differently in how we approach our business of student programming or student conduct violations and those types of things,” Roberts said. “I don’t think it changes how we do business. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? I think that’s going to be determined on how the student population is and how they manage it.”
Resident Assistant and Shotgun Club President Matt Scholz said the training provided to those with a conceal and carry license would prevent some problems with guns from happening.
“It would probably affect my position for the fact that there would be firearms on campus,” Scholz said. “Now, to tell you the truth, I don’t know if it would be for the worst or the best as an RA. Some situations that do happen in residential life could involve an RA being at the wrong end of a firearm in some situations and other situations could end up being just fine. I would assume that nothing would go wrong, considering you have people who would have taken CCW classes.”
The bill does allow for universities to opt out of allowing the conceal and carry access if it can provide a safe environment. This includes installing metal detectors in building entrances and having guards scan people as they come into the building.
For universities like Missouri Western, Kissock said, the exemption is not possible.
“It’s really not feasible. It’s cost prohibitive. I think we’ve done some estimates on it and the cost was in excess of $10 million dollars,” Kissock said. “My understanding is that if you don’t want to allow concealed weapons to be carried on campus, then you have to set up those security procedures and quite frankly, it wouldn’t work here. We don’t have the money to make it work.”
The exemption would also require the same requirements of the residence halls. Residential Hall Director Roberts cited the same burden of cost as Kissock.
“I don’t see those as real feasible depending on what type of circumstance you’re in and certainly not for the residence halls,” Roberts said. “That’s not something that we would have the money or the staff to do.”
If the legislation was put into effect, it is unlikely that Missouri Western would qualify for exemption and would be required to allow conceal and carry on campus. Despite some concerns with the legislation, Kissock said that things would work out and MWSU would comply with state law.
“It certainly won’t be the end of the world. We’ll make it work,” Kissock said. “I anticipate initially there will be a lot of people that will maybe be afraid or concerned to be sitting in classrooms and have people carrying guns. I think it would certainly keep our campus police a little more active, going around and making sure people who have the weapons are properly licensed. I don’t know. It’s hard to predict what will happen in the future and I guess that’s one reason why we’re not crazy about changing, is that we don’t know what will happen.”