JEFFERSON CITY • The House advanced a measure Tuesday that would allow students and faculty at public universities to carry concealed weapons on campus.
The original bill had proposed that universities appoint faculty and staff as campus protection officers, permitting them to carry a concealed weapon. Those appointed would be required to complete a training program authorized by the Department of Public Safety. Bill sponsor Rep. Dean Dohrman, R-La Monte, said the appointees would increase safety and shorten response times on college campuses.
But what began as a conversation about public safety spurred a wider discussion among lawmakers, diving into issues such as sexual assault, suicide and second amendment rights in general.
“There’s not very much that I can say about this life with absolute certainty, but I can tell you this … if I’m ever looking down the barrel of a gun, I hope that other person is looking down the barrel of mine,” Dohrman said in his closing remarks.
After discussing Dohrman’s bill, Republican representatives added amendments tied with the common thread of higher education.
Dohrman inserted a scholarship act for science, technology, engineering and math.
Rep. Justin Hill, R-Lake Saint Louis, added a restriction barring colleges from charging students “any fees, costs, or related expenses” regarding university health insurance if students show proof of existing health insurance.
Rep. Jason Chipman, R-Steelville, inserted a provision banning colleges from requiring their students to live in campus housing for more than a year.
Rep. Jered Taylor, R-Nixa delivered the sixth and final amendment which would ban public universities from restricting lawful possession or carrying of firearms on campus, or imposing related fees.
An extended version of Taylor’s concealed carry provision, which would apply to nearly all public institutions not just universities, was heard in the general laws committee in early March and has yet to be voted on.
Rep. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City, the top Democrat on the Higher Education Committee, spoke against the proposed amendments, noting that they did not go through committee and citing other objections.
When Taylor offered the campus concealed carry amendment, Razer said, “There’s a bigger question to be asked here. We get down into the nitty gritty of numbers and whose statistics are wrong, we’re missing the point that we have a uniquely American epidemic in this country of these mass shootings.”
He continued, “There is something broken in our culture and we need to sit down and think about how do we really fix it.”
The proposal was finalized in the House 98 to 42. Representatives will vote on the provision once more before it heads to the Senate.
The legislation is House Bill 575.(tncms-asset)6cee3d3a-1c74-5c35-8eb6-eaf4121f5335(/tncms-asset)