A case for Campus Carry?

Missouri Senator files bill to lift ban

In December of 2015, two Missouri lawmakers proposed legislation that would allow students, faculty and visitors at universities to carry concealed weapons.

Sen. Bob Dixon (R-Springfield) and Sen. Brian Munzlinger (R-Williamstown) both pre-filed bills that would lift the ban on concealed weapons on college campuses.

This law currently states, “a concealed carry permit does not allow a person to carry concealed firearms into any higher education institution without the consent of the governing body of the institution or a school official.”

While Dixon declined an interview with The University News, the senator was quoted in the “Springfield News-Leader” explaining his desire to lift the ban and propose the legislation that he has marketed as the “campus carry” bill.

“Let’s say the permit holder is a 21-year-old female,” Dixon argued, saying, “If she’s attacked on the west side of National (Avenue) in Springfield, I’m referring to the (Missouri State University) campus, should she have a different set of rights than if she was attacked on the other side of the street? No.”

At Saint Louis University, the proposed legislation was met with opposition from Jim Moran, the Assistant Vice President and Director of the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

“I am vehemently opposed to that legislation, as is the University. While I respect everybody’s constitutional rights, I think that we have a very well trained and efficient, and sufficient, security force here capable of keeping the campus safe,” said Moran. “They are very well trained and trained in active-shooter response, and I think that is the appropriate way to provide security to the campus.”

The proposed legislation does grant universities an out if they do not want to allow concealed carry on their campus. But this exemption comes at a cost; a cost that Moran says would be “significant.”

“We could be granted an exception, but we would be required to meet certain criteria and one of those is [installing] metal detectors,” said Moran.

Universities would be able to choose between metal detectors or armed guards, which would have to be at every building on campus.

“It’s not just the equipment, but it’s a person trained to use the equipment, a person trained to monitor the equipment,” said Moran. “We have 80 buildings on campus, and so the costs to the university would be significant.”

While Moran has not looked into exactly how much these installations would cost, he did say that at SLU specifically, they would not be necessary. In his tenure at SLU, he has only dealt with one incident involving a student bringing a gun on campus.

Moran explained that the student did not have the intention to cause harm, but was an enthusiast who liked to shoot his gun at a local range. Moran concluded that this student made a poor choice by bringing his weapon to campus and was disciplined accordingly.

“I think that we have a great population here, and I think everybody abides by our rules, for the most part,” said Moran. “In my tenure, everybody but one has abided by this rule that there are no weapons allowed on campus.”

More specifically, Moran doesn’t believe that students, or anyone else who comes to SLU’s campus, should be able to carry a weapon, because there is no real way to know what that individual’s intention is.

“Say there are ten people with weapons, and nine are with the intent to be law abiding, and one is not. We can’t differentiate between the two until something occurs,” said Moran.

One senator, despite his disapproval of the legislation, believes that the bill will indeed pass in Missouri’s senate.

“It is likely this legislation would be passed in the [Missouri] Senate,” said Sen. Joshua Keanevy (D-St. Louis), after citing his opposition to the bill. “It would be adding more guns to a society that is already flushed with guns.  It creates an environment that is ripe for a mishap.”

Although the bill is likely to pass, Moran hopes that SLU’s status as a private institution will be enough for the legislation not to apply to SLU at all.

“I think if the bill passes that we would lean on one of the already-in-place stipulations that we are a private campus and this is private property,” said Moran. “I would hope that we would be able to use that caveat to have our policy remain in place and be legal, and that is that we do not allow weapons on campus.”

If the bill is made law, Missouri will join states like Texas and Kansas that have approved similar legislation.