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Missouri House votes to allow concealed weapons on college campuses

Friday, April 17, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — Exactly two years after a gunman killed 32 people and himself on the campus of Virginia Tech, the Missouri House voted Thursday to allow concealed weapons on college campuses.

An amendment to a proposed gun bill, which was approved 105-50 Thursday, would pertain only to gun owners who are properly licensed in the state. The bill will now move to the state Senate for consideration.

Republicans speaking in favor of the concealed-carry amendment said college students have a right to defend themselves from violent people who would disregard designated gun-free zones.

"I believe in concealed-carry," said state Rep. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg. "If you can carry a gun in other public places, why should an open college campus be any different?"

Although the bill passed with support from a strong majority of state representatives, it has been criticized by university officials. The presidents of MU, Rockhurst University and Missouri State University have all spoken out against the amendment, as have many newspaper editorials around the state.

At least one House member, state Rep. Jason Kander, D-Kansas City, said university leadership should have the right to determine its own gun regulations.

"This says that we don't trust college presidents to decide for themselves whether guns should be allowed on campus or not," Kander said. "They should have the right to decide what's best for their campus."

State Rep. Gary Dusenberg, R-Blue Springs, said people's right to defend themselves from potential violence supersedes the will of college presidents.

Dusenberg added that 21-year-old college students are smart and mature enough to carry weapons anywhere, including on campus.

"What we need to remember is that these people who are 21 know what they can and cannot do, and if someone wants to be a criminal, they are going to be a criminal no matter what," he said. "People have a right to defend themselves from that."

Dusenberg pointed to studies showing that mass shooters tend to target gun-free zones, such as college campuses. Students are prohibited from carrying concealed weapons at Virginia Tech and also at Northern Illinois University, where six students were shot and killed in February 2008.

Despite opposition to the concealed-carry amendment, multiple Democrats, including Kander, voiced support for other aspects of the bill, which would enable Missourians to kill anyone unlawfully entering their private property and would lower the age requirement for obtaining a concealed-weapons permit from 23 to 21.

At one point, the controversial amendment's sponsor, state Rep. Brian Munzlinger, R-Williamstown, tried to bring his proposal forward as a stand-alone bill, but he struggled to find a successful House committee vote. Instead, the amendment was added to the larger gun rights bill by a 106-41 vote last week — but not without contentious debate.

Even with the bill winning ultimate House approval Thursday, the Senate could still strip Munzlinger's amendment or could filibuster the bill when it is considered. Although Republicans control Missouri's upper legislative chamber 23 to 11, state Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart — who opposed the House bill — said he doesn't expect the amendment to survive through the Senate.

"There is a lot of good in the bill, and it's kind of a shame that it has been clogged by this wedge issue," Roorda said.

State Rep. Mary Still, D-Columbia, argued that college students who are under stress or potentially under the influence of drugs or alcohol should not have even easier access to guns than they already do.

She added that she has heard concerns regarding the measure from Republicans and Democrats alike.

"I hear it from people in both parties who think this is a terrible idea," Still said.

But Munzlinger maintained that those who are against the bill are misguided.

"The law-abiding citizens are the ones who the opponents of this bill fear," Munzlinger said. "They should be fearing those who want to create mayhem and allow for people to protect themselves."

Legislators made frequent reference to the Virginia Tech tragedy during Thursday's debate in the House, but no mention was made that the gun rights bill was passed on its anniversary.


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Comments

Daryl Moen April 17, 2009 | 6:47 a.m.

Why not tell us how all the reps from Columbia/Boone County voted?

(Report Comment)
Katy Steinmetz April 17, 2009 | 10:28 a.m.

After the column I wrote about this last week, saying that there really wasn't anything to gain by having guns on this campus, someone suggested that "There is something to gain: The personal freedoms that apply in other parts of the state would be upheld at MU as well."

During a dig through the House legislation for this session, however, I found another bill that undermines the argument that it's worth having guns around simply for the sake of exercising a right.

In the bowels of the House Web site is a resolution that “Opposes any federal infringement on citizens’ right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.” Within that resolution is written the following: “In District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court ruled that … The core lawful purpose of the Second Amendment is self defense.” And the host of signers agree resoundingly with this statement.

The point is that personal freedoms are means to particular ends, not ends in themselves. Exercising the right of carrying a concealed weapon is justified when it can help achieve the end of self-defense, but, given the lack of danger on the MU campus, is not possible (outside of truly extraordinary circumstance) for that end to be achieved there.

The resolution can be found at http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bil...

It's also worth noting that provision of the bill allowing Missourians to kill people who trespass on their property is worded very broadly. It states that "deadly force may be used against a person who ... attempts to unlawfully enter private property," meaning, I suppose, that if someone so much as shakes the lock on my gates, I can put a big hole in their chest with immunity.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 17, 2009 | 11:03 a.m.

Katy, how does the House resolution "undermine the argument that it's worth having guns around simply for the sake of exercising a right"?

Take your statement of "Exercising the right of carrying a concealed weapon is justified when it can help achieve the end of self-defense, but, given the lack of danger on the MU campus, is not possible (outside of truly extraordinary circumstance) for that end to be achieved there."

What would you say to a statement that attempted to put such boundaries on "Exercising the right of free speech...?"

Regarding your comments on the castle doctrine, which I believe can be found in its entirety at http://www.learntocarry.com/docs/CastleD..., you will see that it says "Such force is used against a person who unlawfully enters, remains after unlawfully entering, or attempts to unlawfully enter a dwelling, residence, or vehicle lawfully occupied by such person." Someone trespassing on your land is not adequate threat under the law, but them attempting to enter your home or your car while you are in it is.

(Report Comment)
Jim Dog April 17, 2009 | 11:10 a.m.

I am confused by the first paragraph of your story - "Exactly two years after a gunman killed 32 people and himself on the campus of Virginia Tech, the Missouri House voted Thursday to allow concealed weapons on college campuses"

What does this have to do with the rest of this story?

Why did you not open the story with "Exactly five years after the super liner Queen Mary 2 embarked on her first trans-Atlantic crossing, the Missouri House voted Thursday to allow concealed weapons on college campuses"

Perhaps if the Virginia legislature would have had the foresight to pass such a law, Seung-Hui Cho would have been stopped before he killed 32 others.

(Report Comment)
Walt Biesiada April 17, 2009 | 11:12 a.m.

The Aftermath of Gun-Free School Zones
created by the 1990 Crime Control Act

1776-1990 214 years = 7 incidents
1990-2007 17 years = 78 incidents

Repeal this terrible law.
Do it for the children.

(Report Comment)
Katy Steinmetz April 17, 2009 | 11:18 a.m.

I would say that the reason we have a right to free speech is to be able to express ideas and beliefs without censorship or limitation, and that this end is achieved when the words come out of my mouth.

I would also say that the means of free speech is, as the right to bear arms, limited in circumstances where the supposed end is outweighed by the dangers the exercise of that right represents. I am not, for example, constitutionally protected when I shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater. There is nothing to be gained by my exercising the right in that way, and there is some risk to be run, just as there is nothing to be gained by carrying guns on the campus while there remains some risk in having guns around, however negligible it may be.

(Report Comment)
Anton Berkovich April 17, 2009 | 11:20 a.m.

"The Aftermath of Gun-Free School Zones
created by the 1990 Crime Control Act

1776-1990 214 years = 7 incidents
1990-2007 17 years = 78 incidents

Repeal this terrible law.
Do it for the children."

Do you have any proof that this law caused the increase in shooting incidents?

(Report Comment)
Steve Giesel April 17, 2009 | 12:52 p.m.

To Art V.

Yes, John Lott addressed this subject at length in his recent book; "The Bias Against Guns: why almost everything you've heard about gun control is wrong." You can see his Web page here; http://www.johnlott.org/.

(Report Comment)
Steve Giesel April 17, 2009 | 12:54 p.m.

Art,
Sorry about the slight misdirection in the Web site above. Mr. Lott's main blog site with links is here; http://johnrlott.blogspot.com/.

(Report Comment)
Matt Finazzo April 17, 2009 | 2:08 p.m.

I think a lot of misguided people think that this bill would make it mandatory that guns be carried on campus -- nothing could be further from the truth. It simply lifts the legal prohibition from carrying on a campus, as in, carrying on a campus would *no longer be a crime.*

Nowhere in the bill does it prohibit governing boards of colleges and universities from passing their own resolutions prohibiting firearms.

I would have no problem with Mizzou passing such an ordinance, but I don't think it should be mandated at the state level. That way, if you do need to defend yourself in a life-and-death situation, you might get expelled or terminated, but at least you'll be alive and not in jail.

(Report Comment)
Mark Sanford April 17, 2009 | 7:05 p.m.

"The point is that personal freedoms are means to particular ends, not ends in themselves"

Which Constitution are you reading? The personal freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights are indeed an end in themselves. They would be pointless if not, as the goverment could simply declare the ends illegitimate in order to curtail your freedoms. Your notion is not supported by anything written in the Constitution. What you are supporting is prior restraint and the Supreme Court has ruled on multiple occasions that such prior restraints are absolutely illegal and unconstitutional. There exists no need for citizens to justify the execise of their Constitutional freedoms contrary to what is implied by your dubious "means to an end" argument.

(Report Comment)
Vernon Jenewein April 17, 2009 | 9:15 p.m.

I hope it all passes and college campuses are allowed concealed carry. It simply means the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. It means there has to be NO reason to believe there will be danger, just that you have the RIGHT to be ready in case there IS danger. I was a Deputy for 8 years and would proudly sign such a petition to put rights back to the U.S. Citizens. To say you only need to carry a hand gun if you 'think' there is going to be danger is like saying you are only carrying fire insurance in the winter, or putting on your seat belt if you think you might be a bit worried. You have your seat belt fastened because you don't know what the other guy will do, and you can't predict accidents or you would avoid them completely. If you knew there was going to be danger in the school as a shooting, you would avoid it at all costs. We don't know. Reminds me of a story of a lady talking to a Sheriff at a meeting one day. "My Sheriff" the lady said, "I see you are wearing your pistol. Are you expecting trouble"? The Sheriff replied, "No ma'am, if I were expecting trouble I would have brought a rifle."

(Report Comment)
Walt Biesiada April 17, 2009 | 9:16 p.m.

When The Missouri Territory voted to be admitted to The United Sates on Friday, August 10, 1821, the people accepted The Constitution as their new ruling document. The Constitution is NOT a "living document". It is a CONTRACT. MU is bound by that contract and if the people running this college want to opt out, let them try to amend the 2nd amendment. Until they do that they have NO standing to deny an enumerated civil right to anyone on the campus thru administrative fiat.

(Report Comment)
Amber Hanneken April 17, 2009 | 10:11 p.m.

Katy, this statement, "given the lack of danger on the MU campus," is absurd. You could apply that to all places that you personally feel aren't dangerous. The middle of the woods seems to lack danger, maybe we should ban guns there too? My home is pretty safe too.
How do you define lack of danger? Tell that to the students who have been robbed around Peace Park (in the middle of the day no less), the students robbed and sexually assaulted in Virginia Avenue and other parking garages. I am not saying Mizzou isn't an overall safe campus, but I'm sure the Virginia Tech students did not foresee any danger before that fateful day either.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley April 17, 2009 | 11:18 p.m.

It is sad to see a college education go to waste due to youthful idealism...........

Rick.

(Report Comment)
Jim Hollis April 17, 2009 | 11:36 p.m.

Art Vandelay, these laws are for the children. Had these laws been in effect at VT and Columbine, many children might be alive today. Laws against murder or gun mis-use didn't save them.
Katy Steinmetz, Castle Doctrine/Concealed Carry Laws are very specific in the use of deadly force, based on tightly defined criteria. Please, read and understand the total law before taking any of it out of context or in part. Heaven forbid that you or Art or your children would ever encounter a deadly force situation against you. But, in that event, a Concealed Carry (CW) citizen just might be your only chance to go home to your loved ones. People typically fear what they do not understand. I suspect that you don't own a gun and have never fired a gun. (The other possibility is that you, like so many politicians, have another agenda, but hide behind "it's for the children" ploy....ah, another "David Copperfield" illusion.) You fear someone might mis-use a gun and therefore try to deny others their 2A right to self-defense. By that same logic, one might feel justified to deny another their First Amendment (1A) right because of fear they might yell "FIRE" in a theatre. A mis-used right should be punished. Laws guide and set expectations of consequences....not prevent....one from mis-using a right. I obtained my CW permit at the strong encouragement of numerous law enforcement friends. They know that they are rarely in the right place at the right time to prevent violence. They usually arrive after the fact to mop of the mess, write a report, notify the next of kin, and work hard to catch the perpetrator. I carry auto, home, medical and life insurance, but I truly hope never to use them. Carrying a gun is another form of life insurance. I truly hope to never have to use a gun in self defense of myself or another. At least if the worst case scenario happens, I will at least have a chance. That is why I wear a seat belt when I drive. I lost the love of my life just 4 months shy of our 30yr anniversary in a car accident. And, yes, alcohol was the cause....those DWI laws didn't save her, did they? But, I don't fear another accident or want to ban cars so it won't happen to someone else. Should you choose not to excercise your right or become capable of protecting your loved ones, that is your option. But, please don't try to deny me my right to protect myself or my loved ones from the unthinkable.....being now politically correct.... "man-made disaster." I fear the speech of politicians far more than the guns of a law abiding citizen. Politicians 1A rights seek to take my 2A right away....and then your 1A right will soon follow. It is happening right before our eyes. Demand your politicians vote to give your child a chance to come home to you. And, better yet, demand your children learn to use a gun to protect themselves rather than depending upon government or someone else. IT IS FOR THE CHILDREN!!!

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 18, 2009 | 5:09 a.m.

Jim Hollis sorry to burst your bubble but "children" should not be allowed to carry any kind of a gun in public no matter under what circumstances.

Now if you would like to rephrase children with a more "appropriate definition" I can understand but children have no business carrying any kind of a fire arm in public whether they can get a CWP or not.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley April 18, 2009 | 9:21 a.m.

If you'll read the context of his post, and notice the intelligence and articulation that he is using to post; you'd know that by using the word "children", he means the son or daughter of someone, not a child not old enough to be responsible to handle a firearm..

If you'd stop trying to be so controversial about everything (like one word in an entire paragraph, because you can't see the whole picture), and take the time to read people's posts as they were meant to be read, people like Jim would not have to tolerate your nitpicking attempt to cause strife on this forum.

Rick.

(Report Comment)
Tom Warhover April 18, 2009 | 10:59 a.m.

"I am confused by the first paragraph of your story - 'Exactly two years after a gunman killed 32 people and himself on the campus of Virginia Tech, the Missouri House voted Thursday to allow concealed weapons on college campuses'

"What does this have to do with the rest of this story?"

That's a good question, and one that was the first item of discussion during Friday's morning critique and planning session at the Missourian.

Some of the staff thought it might show a bias by the reporter, although there was disagreement about which way it indicated.

Others, like me, thought the link to Virginia Tech was appropriate was appropriate because pro-bill legislators referenced Tech in making arguments. Its anniversary, then, seemed salient.

As to a previous question, here's how local representatives voted:

* Steve Hobbs, R-21st District: Yes
* Chris Kelly, D-24th District: No
* Mary Still, D-25th District: No

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley April 18, 2009 | 12:48 p.m.

Tell ya what, for the people that feel so strongly that the incident that occurred at Virginia Tech could never happen at MU. I will shut my mouth and never say another word in protest to that, as long as if it does happen you will stand up and claim responsibility for the loss of innocent lives by not allowing those people to have a means to defend themselves. Whatcha say, Katy? Will you take this responsibility if something like this does occur at MU?

Rick.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 18, 2009 | 2:10 p.m.

Ricky Gurley when is it not nitpicking when you yourself do the exact same thing.

The reference was wrong IMHO and I stand behind it whether you like that or not. It could have been worded better and more difinative in this controversial issue presented.

Remember freedom of speech is allowed to all who have their opinions. Don't like it don't read it.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley April 18, 2009 | 4:03 p.m.

Well Chuck, you have more rights than you think.

There is freedom of speech, which you have for sure. And there is freedom of stupidity, which you seem to exercise often enough.....

Rick.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance April 19, 2009 | 7:04 p.m.

As to a previous question, here's how local representatives voted:

* Steve Hobbs, R-21st District: Yes
* Chris Kelly, D-24th District: No
* Mary Still, D-25th District: No

Republicans in this state are shameless and clueless, please vote these jokers out in 2010. Requiring colleges to allow guns on campus is stupidity.

(Report Comment)
David Garver April 20, 2009 | 12:23 a.m.

Not allowing law abiding U.S. citizens to defend there lives from eminent harm is the real stupidity! I believe the 2nd amendment is the right that protects all our other rights. An armed citizenry makes the criminal or homicidal individual's think twice before committing heinous acts of violence. CCW's are our right and makes for a responsible society! Let's all "BUCK UP" and take the rains of our own individual destiny. GUN FREE ZONES HAVE TURNED INTO KILLING ZONES FOR THE CRAZY'S. NEWS FLASH! CRIMINALS DO NOT OBEY THE LAW!

(Report Comment)
Jim Hollis April 20, 2009 | 1:21 a.m.

First paragraph was viewed based on individual prejudices and stereotypes from personal life experiences. My initial take was negative...here we go again; more anti-gun reporting propaganda bias....because of the overwhelmingly anti-gun media/academic bias. Appreciate Tom Warhover's explanation. Tom, my apology for my bias. Interesting how Tim Dance and I view voting records in total opposition. Shouldn't be Rep or Dem issue. Is an issue of defending individual rights granted by God and the Constitution/Bill of Rights(oh... four letter words in academia, politics). Go to www.gunfacts.info to view/download document with well documented bibliography. The Bill of Rights 2A reads "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." "Regulated", "militia", and "state" are commonly interperted via bias rather than the founding fathers' intention. 2A isn't about hunting/sport shooting, although they provide for perfecting 2A proficiency. Founders intended 2A to provide for the people to resist tyrannical government, knowing power corrupts absolutely. Supreme Court ruled (Heller V. D.C.) an individual may not be denied right to keep and bear arms for self defense. (View will probably be subverted by Obama's next Liberal/Socialist Justices.) 2A doesn't restrict where an individual may keep/bear arms....home, car, woods, campus...nor the type of arms. (Wasn't it fortunate that patriots had then current state-of-the-art technology assualt weapons to resist King George's Redcoats. Thankfully, they weren't restricted to using King George taxed, approved, registered bows and arrows...no black pistol grips or quivers holding over 10 arrows allowed!) Walt, Amber - great input. MU shouldn't restrict individual's 2A right merely by being on campus. Bad/crazies won't be detered by the restriction, but will be emboldened and facilitated, making MU a location of choice. Violence rarely occurs in a police station, gun club. Perps may be bad/crazy, but not stupid. They are typically cowards targeting victims unable to resist or endanger the perps. Gun violence is usually most prevalent where gun control is most prevalent...DC, NY, LA, Chicago, Mexico...college/high school campuses, government buildings. If one buys into the ability of politicians and MU administrators to restrict the 2A right on MU campus, that person should also buy into the restriction of their 1A free speech right on MU campus. I'll guarantee that position will never be proposed by our Liberal, Socialist academic community...ala Bill Ayers, Ward Churchill, Barack Obama(in an earlier life.) I fear words of a Socilaist, Liberal more than any law abiding, Constitution, freedom supporting citizen's gun. Fear government that fears your gun.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance April 20, 2009 | 7:52 a.m.

Why stop at colleges, Columbine was 10 years ago. Why not have 18 year old high school seniors carry concealed weapons. They can use weapons to defend our country. I find it sad that the rest of the country has been trying to get guns out of our schools, while this state is bringing them in. It is rather pathetic that Republicans have used the schools to rally up their "Fear government that fears my guns" base. To me it's not an issue of whether or not to carry, it is an issue that the schools, not the General Assembly, should be making policy. Professors can prohibit recording devices in their classrooms, but not guns, that's stupidity. Again, Republicans have pathetically used our schools for political gain.

(Report Comment)
Dan Kjer April 20, 2009 | 12:06 p.m.

I have a simple suggestion to opponents of campus carry. Reseach UTAH's campus history. 11 campus' allow concealed carry. No beer barrel gun fights. No faculty shot for handing out a bad grade. No parking spot gun rage. And no psychos gunning innocent students down either. The psychos have changed their killing fields to churches, malls, and other safe havens. Notice they are not choosing our local rod and gun clubs. The common denominator? A gun in the right hands.

One does not conceal for the purpose of hiding the weapon waiting for opportunity to do harm as some opponents would suggest. That is the way of the pycho. The psycho will not know where the shot is coming from is the whole purpose of concealment. If it is a fair fight it is time to change your tactics. The police are well marked in uniforms and they will be the first taken out in a random shooting. Why do you suppose that is? They carry a gun? That is, of course, if the police are even in the vicinity. The psycho has an open killing range of innocents. Don't give me the statistics of probability of it not happening until you can explain to 32 parents of Virginia Tech why their homes have empty beds.

I have read all of the comments pro and con. Paranoia is not reason to carry. "Prepared" is the operative word. Opponents should understand. The responsibility of a person to carry a weapon is immense. They not only put themselves in danger they are also responsible for having the skill not to injure or kill innocent bystanders. If they do they are civilly liable. Like I said. Immense responsibility.

I have a son and daughter in college. I will gladly pay the attorney fees for anyone made a criminal protecting them. I am sure opponents would have a hard time disagreeing given a child in danger. You see. Just because a university legislates a weapons ban doesn't mean it is adhered to. That is by definition "concealed". Any student that is carrying has the responsibility to protect themselves and innocents, rules or no rules. They are not going to immediately change attitude at the school gate. They are by character sheep dogs. My hat is off to them and they should be thanked. Not made criminals. What opponents are missing is CWC is happening right now and has been for a long time. They do not understand that concealed weapons carry does not breed slaughter in the streets or that would have happened long ago. Cho or any other pycho doesn't give a rip for University gun legislation. 911 is a long number to dial when seconds takes a life. I just wish there would have been one student at the scene at VT that broke the rules. I hope that student exists if my son or daughter need help.

(Report Comment)
Dan Kjer April 22, 2009 | 11:17 a.m.

WOW
If this doesn't open do the cut and paste thing. You will not regret it.

This guy is a black scholar raised in Harlem. No matter your views if you value your constitutional rights this guy says a mouthful. Apply what he says to the young people on campus who have yet to experience being denied a constitutional right. Dan

A Liberal Democrat's Lament
Gun Control is Racist, Sexist & Classist."
text of this article is available here:
www.constitution.org/2ll/2ndschol/104ali...

(Report Comment)
John Jones May 1, 2009 | 2:09 a.m.

Katy,
You should leave the legal stuff to the lawyers. The Heller case ONLY applied to the Federal Government. A current case in the 9th Cir. (Nordyke v. King) applied Heller to the states in the 9th Cir. via the 14th amendment. However, Missouri is in the 8th Cir. and there is no telling how judges in our Circuit would rule on the issue (i.e. circuit split).

(Report Comment)

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