Concealed weapons bill meets objections on campus

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 4:11 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 22, 2009

COLUMBIA — Presidents of Missouri's four-year public universities are uniformly opposed to a bill that passed the state House of Representatives last week to allow concealed weapons on campus.


Related Media

Related Articles

“All of our members are united in opposition to this provision,” said Brian Long, director of the Council on Public Higher Education. The council is a member organization of all the public four-year higher education institutions in the state.

Other opposition comes from:

The provision passed the state House on Thursday and had a first reading in the Senate.

It comes with rules that lower the required age for obtaining a conceal-and-carry license to 21 from 23, for those who have a valid permit and at least eight hours of training.

What are the objections?

Objections center on the increased danger to students, faculty, staff and campus law enforcement officers. Some administrators cite the risk of guns used by people with little training during a chaotic incident and the difficulty of sorting out the suspects.

Others worry about accidental discharges, arguments being settled with guns and weapons falling into the wrong hands.

"The truth is, our public safety officers undergo an incredible amount of firearms training — to the point thst they are ready to distinguish targets and exercise proper discipline when shooting," Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University, wrote in an e-mail.

"No one should be able to carry concealed firearms on campus," he wrote.

Michael Nietzel, president of Missouri State University, concurred, saying, "Removing the ban on concealed weapons on campus is not wise, it is not necessary and will not promote greater safety."

'Innocent people could get killed or injured'

MU Chief of Police Jack Watring said the MU Police Department is also against the bill. He said the department's position matches those of the two organizations — the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators and the Missouri Association of Campus Law Enforcement.

The tactical problem with the legislation is that if it is passed, campus police officers could be exposed to danger, Watring said. If an officer responds to a call where “a good guy is trying to stop a bad guy” and they are both armed, he said the officer would not know which is which.

“Innocent people could get killed or injured in these situations,” he said.

Shooting in a situation of high tension is different from shooting during a training session, Watring said.

“When you are in a shooting situation and emotions are running high, there is no telling what could happen,” he said.

It takes one eight-hour training session for an ordinary citizen to have a conceal-and-carry license for life, but MU police officers go through more extensive training, Watring said. They are required to undergo 24 hours of training every year: two eight-hour daytime sessions and one eight-hour night session. The training also includes classes on when weapons and deadly force may be used.

Concerns about weapons at parties

The combination of alcohol and weapons on campus also worries Watring. MUPD answers calls to parties in and around campus with intoxicated individuals and mentally disturbed individuals "all the time," he said.

"It's not a good idea to mix weapons into that situation," he said.

Those who support the bill say the background check and cost of the training help ensure responsibility.

“Everybody who goes through the training is very concerned with staying out of trouble with the law and ordinary citizens,” said Kevin Jamison, a lawyer who graduated from MU. He teaches the two-hour and 45-minute sessions on the law in the eight-hour conceal-and-carry training class.

Someone willing to pay for training and be subject to background checks is responsible enough to carry a concealed weapon, said Jamison, who is also the president of Missourians For Personal Safety.

Arguing for the right to protection

Jonathan Ratliff, MU sophomore and campus leader for Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, has been working with legislators on passage of the bill.

“All I’m asking for is that students and individuals have the right to protect themselves.  I don’t believe that a few college presidents have the right to deny me the right to protect myself,” he said.

Ratliff said he is aware of at least 2,000 supporters at MU based on responses gathered from events held by the Mizzou College Republicans and the local chapter of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus.

“The opposition does not trust students. Students are supposed to be adults, they are supposed to be educable, they are supposed to handle sex and their cars,” Jamison said. “For every other reason, a 21-year-old is an adult, and to insist that they won’t act like an adult is not consistent with what we have seen elsewhere.”

“Some people are afraid of guns,” he said, “ It’s called ‘hoplophobia.' That’s why they are concealed. You don’t see them. You don’t think about it."

Watring said increasing the number of weapons on campus will increase the possibility of accidents.

“There are very few shootings that are random,” he said. “Do we take a chance and put all of those weapons on campus for that one time that that has occurred? Is it using common sense to add that into our situations here?”

Similar bills are pending in at least six other states — Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.

Utah is the only state that prevents individual schools from banning guns from campus. Other states either ban them outright at all state schools or leave the decision up to each institution. Missouri has been a "right-to-carry" state, letting each college or university decide on the matter.

Missourian reporter Nicolas Jimenez contributed to this report.

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Derrick Fogle April 22, 2009 | 7:31 a.m.

Just like the original CC bill. Overwhelmingly voted down at the polls by Missouri voters, so the gun lobby just got lawmakers to pass the bill anyway. If this were put to a vote of the stakeholders (students, faculty, staff) it would get voted down too. So the lawmakers will just pass legislation against the will of the people again. Democracy? Representation? Sooory, we can't hear yoooo!

Domestic terrorism, fueled by the firearms industry, has clearly won. Go ahead, hide behind your hidden guns, fearful of everyone, daydreaming of the chance to become a hero. Just remember, you're at least a hundred times more likely to get struck by lightning than to end up in a Virginia Tech situation. Don't pack your heat in a thunderstorm.

(Report Comment)
Paul Wells April 22, 2009 | 8:43 a.m.

Mr. Fogle,
The original concealed carry bill that was voted on by the population of Missouri was defeated by Missouri’s large population centers St. Louis and Kansas City. Oddly enough, these cities have serious crime problems ( St. Louis was ranked the most dangerous city in the US in 2006 according to USA Today). It seems odd to me that these population centers have so much trouble with crime. Would you like to know why? Because people in these cities who carry guns are criminals. Do they care that it is against the law? NO they are criminals! Where people who are law abiding citizens own guns we don’t have trouble with crime. Would you like to know why? Because we don’t hang the sign out on our neck that says “Hey everybody in this city is unarmed, come on in and get us.” Just what is it you are afraid of Mr. Fogle? If it’s an increase in crime then you needn’t worry. Missouri and every other state that has passed a concealed carry measure has never seen an increase in crime, if anything it has decreased in many states. Utah has allowed concealed carry in their university system for many years and there has never been an instance of trouble. If you will notice, almost every major shooting that has claimed more than 3 victims has occurred in an area that has prohibited concealed carry. I think perhaps you should research the facts a little more before you present your conceptual ideas and possible scenarios on what could happen, and instead look at what has already happened.

(Report Comment)
King Diamond April 22, 2009 | 10:18 a.m.

Pretty positive you can't have guns where alcohol is served, the obvious solution is to get rid of the dry campus crap and have Mizzou start serving beer in classes. No more guns period.

(Report Comment)
Eric Ladd April 22, 2009 | 11:04 a.m.

Think about this:
Anyone with a CCW permit can carry to any off campus party. There is drinking and drugs that these partys. Has there been any incidents with college kids with a concealed carry permit going crazy off campus and killing people? No there has not. This is because law abiding citizens who go through the trouble to get a permit are not the crazy criminals, they are the average student who will not break laws. Why would those same law abiding, college students who currently carry concealed legaly off campus, and don't harm anyone, all of the sudden become a crazed student that shoots up his classmates on campus? Basically I'm saying that I can carry my gun anywhere off campus and myself and others currently cause no harm off campus. Why would i start causing harm on campus? Obviously I will not.
Think about what a "no guns on campus policy" is stopping. Did it stop V-Tech, or N Illinois? No because crazy douchebags will kill whether it is "legal" or not to carry guns on campus.
Thanks for reading!

(Report Comment)
Matt Finazzo April 23, 2009 | 11:55 a.m.

The section of this article headed with 'Concerns about weapons at parties' is horrendous journalism.

Clearly someone who has been a law enforcement officer as long as Mr. Watring would know that the concealed carry bill has absolutely no bearing at parties ALREADY because those parties are not on campus and therefore not subject to current Missouri law which prohibits carry on campus.

You take his general statement "It's not a good idea to mix weapons into that situation" and shift scope, representing that he made the comment as though that couldn't possibly happen now but would most certainly happen if this bill passes.

Please try to make your arguments on the basis of fact rather than evasive techniques typically reserved for high school debate team.

(Report Comment)
Peter Kerr April 24, 2009 | 3:25 p.m.

Last semester one of my students was a former Army Ranger (2 tours in Iraq, 1 tour in Afganistan, 1 tour in Bosnia).
Were he armed we would have been safer.

(Report Comment)
Brigid Foley April 29, 2009 | 1:52 a.m.

On campus grounds, I believe that conceal carry should not be allowed. As a student, I would be highly uncomfortable knowing that others in the room had weapons. Why do you need a weapon in a classroom? Who or what are you planning on shooting? I'm fine with conceal carry off-campus in Columbia, but on campus, there should be a safe zone. Perhaps, there are some veterans who are comfortable armed and responsible citizens, but I do not believe that an 8 hour orientation is enough to make an average citizen comfortable and responsible while carrying a gun. Perhaps if the requirements for conceal carry on campus were stricter, I would support this, but as it is, there is simply no reason I can see why we should allow violent weapons into our schools.

Weapons of any kind are frightening, and I know that their presence on campus would only make living and learning harder for many students. A 2/3 majority of students clearly showed their opinion on the matter. Now, my question is, do we live in a representative democracy or not? we shall see.

(Report Comment)
Kyle Campbell April 29, 2009 | 10:02 a.m.


I respect your point of view, but I would ask you to think of a few points of significance. Do you really think that many people who would get a Campus Conceal/Carry Permit only have 8 hours of training? Personally, I would get one, and I can't even count the hours I've spent learning from my dad (when I was younger) and shooting with friends and family more recently. You are right. Someone with only 8 hours of shooting training would probably be more dangerous than someone like me, who has been shooting all your life. I further ask you to think about this: If someone came into your class today and pulled a gun, (we will assume he is at the head of the class so he can pick his targets out) and started shooting folks, would you not feel better if two or three of your classmates pulled their guns and shot at him at least until he left. The main objective being to get the assailant out of the room, so the students in the class are safe.

Now to answer your last paragraph. You say weapons are scary, and I agree they are, in the wrong hands. I would wager the vast majority of the guns you've seen being shot are on the news or COPS!, but that is not the reality of most shooting. Not everyone is a terrible shot like your gangsters or other criminals. Most if not all of the people I know are very proficient shots and hit their target 999 out of 1000 times. Your fear of weapons stems from the environment you were brought up in, and I'd bet that if you went shooting with some people who knew what they were doing, you would thoroughly enjoy yourself. Thanks for reading!!!

(Report Comment)
Audrey Jennings April 29, 2009 | 1:16 p.m.

First, I have no problem with lowering the age one can obtain a CC permit to 21. However, the training required for a concealed weapons permit is ridiculous. It took me far longer to get a license to drive a car than it would take me to carry a gun. Both can be considered weapons, both kill people daily, and both should be handled with the utmost care.

Kyle Campbell tried to make the point that students who would carry concealed weapons would likely have more training than just the standard 8 hrs. I find this to be a ridiculous assumption to make (this excludes former military) and would much prefer it if the students around me on campus who might have guns weren't treated like professionals based on this assumption.

Earlier in this section, someone suggested that an opponent of CC might be afraid of guns. I don't know if the girl in question is afraid, but so what if she is? You do not get to force someone to get used to something scary. You do not get to wave something like conceal and carry in her face and make her feel like her learning environment isn't secure. We all came to this school knowing about the weapons policy on campus. If an advocate of CC was truly afraid of a CC-free campus, then one hopes that he or she might have had the presence of mind to pick another school.

Paul Wells tried to compare this situation to the one in St. Louis where violent crime is at its worst. I have no real opinion on how to handle that particular situation, but I find it difficult to compare St. Louis to the Mizzou campus. Any comparison assumes that there is a very real crime problem on our campus or that there is a very strong threat of crime on our campus. Neither seem to be the case. School shootings are horrific, but they are also highly publicized. As Derrick Fogle said previously, one has more chance of being hit by lightening than being shot in a classroom. Perhaps I'm badly informed, but I have never heard of a case in a classroom or otherwise where a gumnman was stopped by the concealed weapon of one of his would-be victims. I'm also not aware of what kind of training a person goes through to prepare for a scary and chaotic situation. Does a conceal and carry permit automatically give the carrier the ability to handle the panic associated with a life or death situation?

For the meantime, the students against CC are in the majority and one hopes that that is enough to sway the MO Legislature. I don't feel that this situation should be left up to anyone but the students, faculty, and staff who work and learn on this campus daily. Thanks for reading.

(Report Comment)

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.