JEFFERSON CITY — Many Missouri lawmakers have aimed to allow students, staff and teachers to carry concealed firearms on college campuses, among other places.
However, that legislation has been stopped in its tracks before being finalized in the Senate.
Versions of the bill have been proposed the past couple of years but made it further in the process this time. The bill has been stuck in a Senate committee, and those involved say that, at this point, there almost certainly isn’t time to deal with it before the session ends a week from Friday.
Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz said that realistically, the bill won’t have time to make it through the process.
Schatz said he doesn’t believe the bill is a high priority and that other items will take precedence in the final few days.
HB 575, proposed by Rep. Dean Dohrman, R-La Monte, began as legislation to allow schools to assign faculty or staff members as “campus protection officers,” who would carry concealed firearms and be appropriately certified.
“We need immediate response in a dangerous situation where lives are threatened,” Dohrman said.
The nature of the legislation changed, however, when it was amended by Rep. Jered Taylor, R-Republic, to allow all students, staff and faculty to carry concealed firearms on campus. Taylor said that his amendment wasn’t simply a matter of campus safety but also protecting students’ civil liberties.
“My legislation might help in a mass shooting situation, but that’s not necessarily what it’s aimed at,” Taylor said. “We don’t remove any other constitutionally secured right when an individual walks on a college campus, and we shouldn’t be removing their right to defend themselves.”
Taylor dismissed the argument from opponents that more guns on a campus would make it less safe, citing other states that have passed similar policy and not seen significant change.
“We’re told that we’re going to see the wild, wild West,” Taylor said, “that people are going to go out and have a simple argument, guns are going to be drawn, and people are going to get shot. And that just doesn’t happen. If it did, we’d be hearing about it in the news.”
After initially passing the House in early April with a 98-52 approval vote, the bill went to the Senate, where it received a public hearing in front of the Senate Committee on Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety. Sections of the bill that involved concealed carry as well as a section that would not require students with existing health insurance to pay student health fees received backlash from opponents of the legislation.
A week later, the committee met and passed the legislation, which meant the next step was for the Senate to debate it on the floor. However, the bill was never reported from the committee to the Senate, meaning that it could not be brought up for reading and debate.
Both Taylor and Dohrman pledged to try again next year.
Yue Yu contributed this report.