Missouri Considers Pro-Gun Legislation, Including Expanding Gun Access on College Campuses

 

The Missouri Legislature is pushing forward several pro-gun bills this session, including allowing concealed carry without a permit, limiting permit fees, and campus carry.

Campus Carry

Missouri lawmakers during a March 14, 2016, House committee hearing, weighed proposals that would expand gun access on college campuses by allowing people to carry concealed firearms.

The two bills in particular are among several introduced this year by state Republican lawmakers, who have argued that students should be allowed to carry firearms for self-defense and that armed, law-abiding citizens with proper training can save lives during attempted mass shootings.

“Why are we taking an individual’s right away to protect themselves on campus?” said Nixa Republican Rep. Jered Taylor, who is sponsoring one of the bills, HB 2698. Currently, a concealed carry permit does not allow a person to carry concealed firearms into any higher education institution without the consent of the governing body of the institution or a school official. Taylor’s bill changes the law to allow concealed carry except in certain locations within a higher education institution.

"Jefferson City" by Sarah Minor, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service - NRCS photo gallery. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.
A number of bills expanding gunowners’ rights are being considered by the Missouri Legislature in Jefferson City. Photo by Sarah Minor, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Unlike Lamar Republican Rep. Mike Kelley’s legislation, HB 1910, Taylor’s bill would only apply to public colleges and universities and includes exceptions for areas on campus with grade school children, some sporting events and hospitals.

Under Kelley’s proposal, colleges and universities could apply for an exemption to ban concealed carry.

To receive permission from the state Department of Higher Education to ban concealed carry of firearms, schools would need to staff every door of every building with armed security and metal detectors. Those entering would be screened, and higher education institutions would need to provide a safe space to store weapons.

Paul Wagner, executive director of the Council on Public Higher Education, said that no public campuses in Missouri allow for concealed carry of firearms and said the security requirements are not a viable alternative because of costs.

Legislative researchers estimate Kelley’s bill would cost at least $991 million for the first year for schools to meet the security requirements needed to receive an exemption. Another estimate shows no costs associated with Taylor’s legislation.

University administrators have criticized efforts to expand gun access on campuses, saying it’s dangerous given binge drinking and mental health issues among college students.

College students spoke both for and against the measures during the March 14 hearing.

“We do not believe that your pursuit of a higher education should endanger your life,” said Jake Buxton, chairman of the Missouri Federation of College Republicans who attends Truman State University.

Doug Witt, a student at the University of Missouri-Columbia and chairman of the College Democrats of Missouri, raised doubts about whether training for concealed-carry permits is adequate to prepare gun holders for mass shootings and questioned why the measures are some lawmakers’ “first reaction to prevent gun violence on campus.”

A Senate panel heard testimony on two similar bills in January. The measures also drew broad opposition from university administrators.

On March 14, 2016, a public hearing before the Emerging Issues Sub-Committee of the Select Committee on General Laws was completed on HB 1910. There is no further action scheduled as of April 4, 2016.

On March 31, 2016, HB 2698 was referred to the House Select Committee on General Laws where it currently waits action by the Committee.

Addition Proposed Measures

In addition, prior to adjournment for spring break on March 21, staunch pro-gun Chairman Caleb Jones (R-50) of the Select Committee on General Laws voted DO-PASS to move the following pro-gun bills to the House Floor for consideration:

House Bill 1468, sponsored by state Representative Eric Burlison (R-133), would allow all law-abiding individuals to carry a concealed firearm anywhere that isn’t expressly prohibited by law. HB 1468 would also recognize your right to legally carry a concealed firearm without having to obtain a permit, allowing law-abiding gun owners the ability to better protect themselves and their families.

House Bill 2057, sponsored by state Representative Mike Bernskoetter (R-59), specifies that except for credit card fees incurred, no additional fee beyond $100 may be charged to process concealed carry permits and allows military members extra time to renew their permits.

In further action, the House Select Committee on the Judiciary voted to pass House Bill 1828, sponsored by state Representative Joe McGaugh (R-39) on March 16, 2016. This measure would allow certain people who have lost their right to possess firearms to have their rights restored under certain circumstances. As of April 4 2016, there are no hearings scheduled and the bill is not on the House calendar.

The Legislature reconvened on March 29 and will be in session until it adjourns on May 13, 2016. If these bills are not approved prior to adjournment, new bills will have to be introduced in the next session beginning in 2017 as Missouri does not allow for carryover of pending legislation from the prior session.

Contact your State Representative and let him or her know where you stand on these pro-gun bills.