MU's weapon lockbox opens up the conversation of campus concealed carry

Inside the MU Police Department is a storage locker where students can keep weapons. The service allows the campus community a secure place to store guns, including those used for hunting and recreational sports.
“People who live in the residence dorms or go recreational shooting need a place to store their weapons,” said Major Brian Weimer, who has been with the police department for more than 25 years. Often students want to have the guns available for hunting, he said. “For the people who live here, we don’t ask why they’re bringing it.”
The locker is necessary because the law that allows Missourians to carry concealed weapons does not apply to universities. An effort to remove the ban was approved by a legislative committee last spring but didn’t quite make it into law. The bill’s sponsor plans to try again this spring.
Rep. Jered Taylor, R-Nixa, filed a bill last year that looks to reduce the number of “gun-free zones” in the state.
In addition to college campuses, Taylor wanted to remove a number of locations, including day care centers, places of worship, bars and gambling establishments.
“An individual shouldn’t lose the right to defend themselves just because they step from one side of the street onto a college campus to the other side of the street,” Taylor said last week. “The right should be afforded to them on college campuses as well. There might be an effect on student life, but it would be a positive impact. Giving those students control back over their lives and being able to defend themselves is important.”
Taylor plans to file new legislation to reduce the gun-free zones in Missouri, including college campuses. He says he will pre-file the bill in December, and the session begins in January.
In 2015, MU law professor Royce de R. Barondes filed a lawsuit against the university’s weapon restriction policies claiming it to be a violation of the Second Amendment. The suit is still pending.
MU junior Chris Vas, who is a current chairman of the MU College Republicans and a “strong supporter” of the Second Amendment, says that having a locker to store weapons is not enough.
“If you can legally carry a gun on Ninth Street by Chipotle, but you can’t carry it on to campus, it doesn’t make any sense,” Vas said. “At what point does a full grown adult lose their God-given right to carry a weapon just because they’re seeking a higher education?”
Vas believes the campus ban tramples his rights as a citizen.
“The locker doesn’t really do you much good if you can’t use the gun for self-defense,” Vas said.
MU Senior Sean Walsh, who is studying health science, believes campus carry would help decrease the crime rate and increase security.
“You never know what some psycho out there is going to do or could do,” Walsh said. “It’s a good way to defend yourself and others by necessary means.”
MU senior Beverly Jones, who is studying sociology, says hearing about the availability of a weapon storage locker on campus is “really surprising” and believes the campaign for campus carry is a bad idea. “I don’t understand why campus would be a good place for people to store their weapons,” Jones said. “While I don’t think it would cause any problems, I also don’t see why it’s necessary to be on campus.”
Jones said she doesn’t believe having more guns will make people safer. “We should emphasize procedures of what to do in case of an active shooter coming into campus instead of allowing more people to carry guns, since it’s unlikely a person with a concealed gun would be able to take down a shooter.”
MU senior Sara-Jessica Dilks says that while the locker could be a positive service, campus carry would make her “quite uncomfortable.”
“Surely the MU system spends thousands per year in protective measures for this campus already,” said Dilks. “It’s their job to respond effectively in case of an emergency, not a random student’s. This is a community of predominantly 18-22 year olds. Something could very easily go wrong with an influx of weapons on campus, accidental or not.”
One student who has previously used the locker to store his weapon says they loved the service. Nicholas Simon, a junior and a recreational sports shooter, utilized the locker to keep his AR-15 rifle safely stored.
“I was glad Mizzou offered the service, because otherwise my alternatives were limited,” said Simon. “I’m not going to keep it in my dorm because of safety issues. The fact that I could bring it to MUPD and have them register it to me was great.”
Simon says he is “middle ground” on the issue of concealed carry and does not believe that universities are a place that would have a need for residents to carry weapons.
“Conceal and carry has its merits, but I don’t feel like you should have to have a gun on you to feel safe at a place like the University of Missouri,” Simon said. “I feel less safe knowing there are people’s guns around me.”
Originally published by the Columbia Missourian on October 15, 2017

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