Missouri State University President Clif Smart says he’s concerned over legislation to lift the current ban on the carrying of concealed firearms at the state’s colleges and universities.
Speaking to KSMU during its monthly program Engaging the Community, Smart says the bills that were pre-filed ahead of the legislation session could pose more harm than good.
“We just think the danger of accidental shootings and suicides and shootings in anger way overcome the possibility that a student having a gun on campus might be able to thwart a terrorist attack,” he said.
The minimum age a person in Missouri can apply for a conceal carry permit is 19. Smart says that under the bills filed, any student 19 or older with a permit could bring a gun on campus, keep in his or her residence hall, take to class and or social events.
He does note there may be opportunities for compromise.
“There may be opportunities that it makes sense to allow employees on certain circumstances that have conceal and carry permits and that have had extra training to be able to have a gun in their office, for example. So we wanna engage lawmakers on this issue.”
Current university policy allows employees with a concealed carry permit to keep a firearm in a locked vehicle and out of view, but nowhere else on campus.
Aside from monitoring these types of bills and others, MSU will be working with legislators to bring a couple major goals to fruition this session. One is advocating for passage of a measure which Gov. Jay Nixon is expecting to push increasing higher education appropriations by six percent.
“It’s got an equity component in there for schools that are growing like ours. That translates for us, because we’ve met all of our performance measures of a seven percent increase. That’s the number one priority. Nothing else is close to that because it’s a game changer.”
Smart says such funding would make up for all the cuts MSU has experienced in the last several years, and provide funding for more STEM programs, among others.
The university will also be pursuing a 50/50 match for the expansion of Glass Hall, a project that broke ground last fall and has received $5 million in private dollars to date. Smart says recent history would appear to be on MSU’s side.
“Within the last two years the state has matched building projects for schools of business at the UM System in both St. Louis and Kansas City, and so we think it’s our turn this year as we work to get that funded,” said Smart.
The Missouri Legislative session began Jan. 6. Gov. Nixon will deliver his State of the State address on Wednesday, Jan. 20. You can hear that speech, followed by the Republican response, beginning at 7 p.m. on KSMU.