House adopts amendment that allows guns in college classrooms
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House adopts amendment that allows guns in college classrooms

Date: April 9, 2009
By: Rebecca Beitsch
State Capitol Bureau
Links: HB 668

JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri House gave first-round approval to a bill Wednesday that would greatly expand gun owners' rights in Missouri, including a provision allowing students to carry concealed weapons on college campuses.

The House voted  to support a bill that, in addition to the provision on campus concealed carry, would also lower the eligibility age for obtaining a concealed carry permit from 23 to 21. The bill also expands Missouri's castle doctrine, which allows the use of deadly force to cover private property that the owner feels is threatened.

Current concealed carry laws require applicants undergo firearms training and a background check free of felony convictions. The laws also bars carrying a concealed weapon into places like schools, hospitals, and large stadiums.

As amended, the bill would allow concealed weapons to be carried onto the campuses of public colleges and universities.

During debate, several House members said a law like this could help to prevent another incident similar to that of Virginia Tech.

Rep. Brian Munzlinger, R-Williamstown, sponsored the amendment and said schools and other public places that bar guns are an open target because people are sitting there like "a bunch of sheep."

But many Democrats said they were concerned about the safety of students.

Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, said he was worried about the possible combinations of drinking and weapons on college campuses.

"College boys who round up 25 opossums half drunk can do amazingly interesting things with fireworks, bottles of gasoline, with all kinds of interesting devices," Kelly said. "Fraternity boys are a very inventive lot, let's make sure we give 'em guns to play with too," Kelly said with sarcasm.  

The amendment was adopted 106-41. Missouri's minimum age to obtain a concealed carry permit is one the oldest in the country. The majority of states set the minimum age at 21.

The portion of the bill that would expand the castle doctrine beyond private property would allow a person leasing property the right to deadly force.

This bill faces one more vote before it can move to the Senate.