JEFFERSON CITY — With four days remaining in the state legislative session, further progress was stalled Monday on the House bill that would expand the Castle Doctrine and allow concealed carry on college campuses.
The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Kenny Jones, R-Clarksburg, would allow lessees to shoot to kill aggressive intruders of rented property and would lower the minimum age for acquiring a concealed-carry license from 23 to 21 years of age. An amendment to the bill would void provisions that prohibit concealed-carry policies on college campuses.
The Senate Judiciary Committee held public testimony on the bill Monday evening but did not vote on it because the committee chairman was not present, said state Sen. Jack Goodman, R-Mt. Vernon, who served as chairman for the committee hearing.
Four days are left for lawmakers to pass bills in the House and Senate and send them to Gov. Jay Nixon's desk. Despite no committee vote on Monday and legislative procedural rules that require specific waiting periods, the bill still has time to pass the two legislative chambers before time runs out. Timing in this final week of session is critical; if committee chairman Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Jackson County, does not hold an executive session by Tuesday afternoon for the committee to vote on the bill, the bill could die.
When asked if he thinks the bill will make it through both chambers given the tight timing, Jones said, "I think there's a slight chance that it might get through the process but very slight."
Jones also said he does not think Nixon would sign the bill into law if the legislation does make it to his desk.
"It probably goes farther than he would want to support as far as carrying concealed and self-protection," said Jones, a former Moniteau County sheriff. "I carried the bill forward because it is a castle-doctrine extension. We don't have enough policemen in this state or in this country to defend us all at all times. Sometimes, you just have to take things upon yourself to defend yourself. This is not an aggression bill — this is a defense bill."
The committee's public hearing on Monday featured five witnesses speaking in favor of the legislation, including a doctoral student at the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla. No one spoke in opposition of the bill.
Isaiah Kellogg, who has spent 10 years at Missouri S&T and intends to teach at a university after earning his degree, said he supports the bill because it would increase campus safety.
"I am going to be in academia for the foreseeable future — that will be my career — so I will be on university campuses for most of my life until I retire," Kellogg said in his public testimony. "So this is very important to me, to have the ability to protect myself."
Kellogg has held a concealed-carry license since March 2005 and usually carries a snub-nosed revolver, which he must keep in the trunk of his car when he is on campus. Kellogg said Missouri S&T's code of conduct does not allow concealed weapons on campus, and if the legislation passes, the university is not obligated to change its code of conduct. But if the bill passes, Kellogg said students can argue for concealed carry with the university board.
"We've taken down the legal barrier," Kellogg said, speaking hypothetically. "Now, we have to take down the code-of-conduct barrier."