More guns on campus? Some Missouri lawmakers argue it could help

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - There have been eleven school shootings in 2018 alone, and some Missouri lawmakers argue that having more guns on campus could make college classroom safer.

Republican Representative Dean Dohrman proposed House Bill 1942 Wednesday to the House Higher Education Committee.

If it's signed into law, the bill would allow leaders at colleges and universities to designate faculty members they want to carry concealed weapons on campus.

The chairman of the higher ed committee, Republican Representative Donna Lichtenegger, supports the bill and said that staff that are 'campus protection officers' would undergo regular training and that they would be able to respond faster to violent situations because they're already inside the building.

"This is just a good way to diffuse a problem faster. To eliminate the problem hopefully before it ever got started," Lichtenegger said. "Law enforcement and the administration will all know the people who are carrying within those institutions. The perpetrators won't but the people that should know will know."

Democratic Representative Greg Razer disagrees with the bill's intent. Razer also said that he doesn't want to take away any guns but that arming more people is not a long-term answer to the problem.

"Let's think about what we are actually doing," Razer said. "What does it say about us as a society when we are trying to pass legislation that puts a designated shooter in a college classroom. That is a bizarre thing."

Dr. Wes Payne, the president of Three Rivers College, believes the bill could be a viable part of the solution when it comes to responding to threats on campus. One aspect that Payne said he likes about the current bill is that it's not mandatory and that each institution has local control so they can use it to address the needs of their part of the state.

"I don't think you can reasonably compare Southeast Missouri and the situation we face here, with what is being faced by our sister colleges in Kansas City and St. Louis," Payne said. "It makes it much easier to make those local adjustments that make sense for the individual college, as opposed to trying to find one-size fits all solution for every college in the state."

Every Missouri public higher education institution is also under fiscal pressure from cuts in state funding and Payne said having 'campus protection officers' could possibly act as a relatively low-cost security force.

"If you're an institution with a large security force that may be somewhere where you're looking at reducing expenditures there," Payne said. "For other institutions that would not be an appropriate place to look. I think it's a little early to tell what the fiscal ramifications of this potentially could be."

Rep. Lichtenegger said that once the bill is read for the third time on the House floor it will then move on to the Senate for a full review and that it usually takes three to four years for a piece of legislation to pass.

"We often say up here it's a whole lot easier to kill a bill than it is to pass a bill," However something like this with some of the atmosphere out there, with schools and churches having these problems, this could move forward pretty fast."

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