Campus conceal-and-carry bill faces uncertain future in Senate

Wednesday, April 29, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — A House bill that would allow people to carry concealed guns on Missouri college campuses is unlikely to pass as is, according to some senators.

The amendment, which passed the House by a 105 to 50 vote, was attached to a bill that would lower the age from 23 to 21 for obtaining a conceal-and-carry permit.

The bill faces opposition from at least five senators who intend to filibuster it if it makes it to the Senate floor with the campus provision, said Senate Judiciary Chair Matt Bartle, R-Jackson County, whose committee will hear testimony on the bill.

Bartle said the bill has stirred a lot of controversy and it will be very difficult to get it through the legislature.

While Bartle is unsure whether the controversial portion of the bill will even make it to full Senate debate, Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, said he thinks it's probably something that will get removed beforehand in committee.

"I'm not sure I support that part of it," Stouffer said. "I think that's something that we need to look at here in the Senate. I'm not sure the Senate will pass that portion. ... I think it may get stripped out before it hits the Senate floor."

Bartle does think the worries of the senators are misplaced.

"I feel like some of these tragedies might have been avoided had we had conceal-carry on university campuses," Bartle said.

For one Virginia Tech survivor, however, the answer is not in allowing licensed guns on campuses.

Virginia Tech graduate Colin Goddard, 23, is scheduled to appear at a press conference Wednesday concerning the bill. He has appeared at other events and has written editorials criticizing the move to bring licensed guns onto campus.

Goddard was shot four times during the April 16, 2007, shooting.

UM System President Gary Forsee has also come out against the measure, saying the bill would make Missouri campuses more vulnerable. Proponents for the measure say it would make campuses safer.

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Ellis Smith April 29, 2009 | 8:53 a.m.

We don't need swine flu and we don't need this. The difference is that there may not be anything we can do to avoid the swine flu.

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Greg Collins April 29, 2009 | 9:02 a.m.

Thugs (already armed) and hand wringers are happy about the prospect of keeping a gun free zone in place. May a tragedy never strike but if it does, it will lie on the heads of those who opted to keep citizens unarmed.

(Report Comment)
Nate Kennedy April 29, 2009 | 2:07 p.m.

I was at the press conference. Goddard said there was absolutely nothing a concealed carry permit holder could have done that day in the mass chaos. Also, there was a shoot-on-sight order in effect so any non-law enforcement person with a gun would have been killed.

Arming students is not a deterrent to mental ill killers. Arming students will not stop them from choosing to kill people. Reforming mental health and promoting mental fitness will.

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John Schultz April 29, 2009 | 3:00 p.m.

With all due respect to Mr. Goddard, I find it hard to believe that a person with a concealed weapon could not have confronted the murderer at Virginia Tech and possibly saved lives. The killer went into at least three different classrooms, perhaps more, and those people not in the first room where he opened fire could have stood a better chance at surviving.

(Report Comment)
Mike Sykuta April 30, 2009 | 10:15 a.m.

Regardless of the merits of the issue, I am appalled at the poor reporting/writing of the article. How is one supposed to learn more about this bill and its progress given the reporter failed to do the simplest of tasks...provide the House bill number. In Md. Coleman's defense, however, the reporter at the Tribune did no better.

(Report Comment)
Bill Jenkins April 30, 2009 | 5:26 p.m.

Not everyone wants to live in a world of paranoia and fear. As a college professor for the past 25 years and a victim of gun violence myself (my seventeen year old son was shot and killed during a fast food restaurant robbery), I would not work on a campus that allowed concealed carry.

The presence of guns does not make everyone feel safer, especially the millions of us who are already victims of gun violence.

Effectively preventing killers from getting guns is the only rational response to this spate of tragedies. Those who offer superficial, anecdotal, and self-proclaiming solutions simply do not understand the contemporary college/university environment and human nature.

Colleges and universities already take campus safety and security very seriously. Already, many schools have armed police forces. The chance that a shooter will walk into a classroom with a concealed carry holder is already very remote. Could an armed student be in the right place at the right time? Maybe, but not very likely. Even if they are, will they get off a shot before they are killed? President Reagan was shot and almost killed and he was not in a "gun-free zone."

These students, virtually all would have to be over 21, by the way, will have almost no experience or training, nor would they have time to practice. As for teachers, they are typically the first ones shot in the classroom so arming them makes no sense at all.

So, the only relevant questions are these: With all the overwhelmingly safe hours on our campuses, what will be the result of legalizing the carrying and possession of firearms in this environment? Once the novelty wears off, how secure will those firearms be – in the classroom, residence halls, locker rooms? What problems will these young gun owners, or those with access to their guns, try to solve in a fit of passion or poor, even impaired judgment?

These are complications that far outweigh the claimed "benefits" to the campus community. This is merely another way of infiltrating guns into our daily lives in order to sell more guns and make more profit.

Guns on campus is a foolish and dangerous idea. A far more effective security measure would be to simply install locks on classroom doors that can be actuated from inside. Keyed locks on the outside are the rule, but the ability of teachers or students to secure a door from the inside is rarely afforded. This simple measure would have likely saved the vast majority of lives at Virginia Tech.

Provide funding for public and private schools for infrastructure surveys and then bring facilities up to a higher level of security. It would certainly cost millions, but consider the costs from just one liability lawsuit from an injured or killed student that arose from an official Guns On Campus policy.

(Report Comment)
Paul Ready May 5, 2009 | 10:30 p.m.

Mr. Jenkins,

I am also the victim of a crime. Mine didn't involve guns. It involved a crowd of angry men. I don't avoid public places, because not every crowd is hostile. Consider this, if you had been the victim of baseball bat violence, would you not go to a campus that permitted baseball to be played recreationally, and bats to be owned by those who would play? The guns won't cause violence. If there's a student who wants to kill people, they'll break the gun ban rule and do it anyway. If there were no guns in the world, they'd find another weapon and do the same. Just look to Japan and Britain where murderers use swords and cars to bring chaos after guns were banned. Guns owned by people who are not a threat are just as harmless as baseball bats owned by the same, or, in my case, non-voiolent crowds everywhere.

To Mr. Goddard,

I pay taxes. That does not make me an economy professor. You got shot. That doesn't make you an expert on violence and tactics. I appreciate that you do not like the idea, but the parishioners of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, who were saved from an active shooter, probably have a much different view. The biggest difference is that their story is much less publicized because so many more of them were saved when someone had a concealed handgun to protect them with.

(Report Comment)
Ned Weatherby June 5, 2009 | 1:17 p.m.

Bill Jenkins wrote:

"Not everyone wants to live in a world of paranoia and fear. As a college professor for the past 25 years and a victim of gun violence myself (my seventeen year old son was shot and killed during a fast food restaurant robbery), I would not work on a campus that allowed concealed carry.

The presence of guns does not make everyone feel safer, especially the millions of us who are already victims of gun violence."

Seems like Professor Jenkins is already living in "a world of paranoia and fear." To wit:"I would not work on a campus that allowed concealed carry."

Notwithstanding the non-sequitur of a loved one being murdered by a criminal vs concealed carry of a gun by a licensed law abiding citizen, the alleged "argument" here is based upon "feelings" and not logic.

Professor Jenkins admits that he doesn't "feel safer" around guns, using his status as a victim of "gun violence" as if that somehow supports his position.

It's a Utopian fallacy to suggest that guns - or any harmful implement for that matter - can be kept out of the hands of unstable people. One can't magically snap a finger and remove all guns and the machinery with which to manufacture guns from society.

And if something bad happens, such as a nut, criminal or terrorist defeating the millions of dollars of security measures at the hypothetical perfectly safe university, people will call for the police - men with guns - to come and save them.

But the police have no compelled legal duty to protect any individual citizen. And, surprise - sometimes there are police that turn out to be bad guys.

The professor then resorts to the old, time-worn argument: "What problems will these young gun owners, or those with access to their guns, try to solve in a fit of passion or poor, even impaired judgment?"

Fortunately, law abiding citizens - even young ones - who are licensed to carry guns are typically the most trustworthy and responsible. In fact, the time-worn argument of CCW licensees shooting each other over parking disputes simply never happened.

I'm surprised that a college professor allows his argument to be dictated by emotion, rather than logic. And IMO, it does no service to anyone to extend some sort of special status to "gun violence" as opposed to violence.

In fact, the term "gun violence" amounts to emotional double speak. Point to any other type of violence that includes the name of the tool utilized. I've never heard of fist violence, bludgeon violence, knife violence, etc.

"Gun violence" is propaganda, and the use of the term reveals the emotional mind-set of the user.

(Report Comment)

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