April 29, 2009

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Student leaders from the University of Missouri, along with college administrators, gun violence prevention advocates, and state lawmakers joined together to oppose HB 668 , a bill that would force concealed and loaded guns onto college and university campuses.

The gun lobby’s dangerous legislation would completely strip the right and ability of Missouri’s higher education system from deciding for itself how to protect the safety and security of its students, faculty and staff. Student leaders and university administrators lashed out at such an audacious power grab by the gun lobby to weaken safety at Missouri’s public colleges and universities.

“I am strongly against any legislation that would allow concealed weapons to be carried onto college campuses,” said Sen. Jeff Smith (D-4). “College is wonderful but it doesn’t come without stress, anxiety, and uncertainty. Combining these volatile emotions, binge drinking, and guns will not have positive results. Over 40 percent of all college students are binge drinkers according to Department of Health and Human Services, and bringing guns into this tumultuous campus culture will only increase the already high number of alcohol-related injuries and deaths. Further, this will detract from an atmosphere that promotes a free exchange of ideas and opinions. Intellectual debate may be stifled if students fear their classmates are carrying weapons. This misguided proposal will hamper the social, intellectual, and emotional development of Missouri’s college students, and potentially endanger their welfare.”

The gun lobby has yet to pass legislation to force “Guns on Campus” in any state. State legislation has failed in all nineteen states where it has been introduced . Most recently, a handful of NRA-endorsed and “A-rated” Senators voted against North Dakota’s “Guns on Campus” bill sending it to defeat. Tremendous pressure from students, advocates and university officials have caused ardent gun lobby supporters to reconsider their positions on these bills.

The flawed notion that college students could carry a loaded and concealed gun into a classroom is a chilling prospect that our student body vehemently opposes, and it’s time our voices are heard on this matter,” said Brian Roach, a member of the University of Missouri Student Senate. “Students deserve a safe learning environment. Permitting armed students into a unique campus environment would break that fundamental promise of safety.”

Colin Goddard, a student who was shot four times during the Virginia Tech tragedy, called the proposed Missouri legislation a “fantasy borne out of watching too many movies.” Goddard continued: “The fact that the Missouri gun lobby looks at the horror of the Virginia Tech tragedy as an opportunity to push its deadly agenda is completely unsettling to those of us who were shot and wounded. It represents a lack of serious thought about what happens in this kind of situation. I lived through that nightmare, and I can tell you more guns would have made matters worse, not better. I would work toward removing the two guns that were there, in the hands of the shooter, instead of putting five more in the hands of students. This proposal is reckless, and won’t reduce gun violence.”

Presidents and administrators of the University of Missouri System strongly oppose legislation to permit students to carry guns on campus such as Columbia University of Missouri, Kansas City University of Missouri, St. Louis University of Missouri, the University of Missouri of Science and Technology (at Rolla), as well as Missouri Southern State University.

Nationally, the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus is organizing colleges and universities to band together to fight the gun lobby’s agenda. The Campaign has 80 colleges and universities in 21 states that have signed resolutions calling on lawmakers to prohibit the carrying of firearms on college campuses.

View current list at www.keepgunsoffcampus.org .

“The gun lobby does not make idle threats. American’s colleges and universities cannot afford to stand on the sidelines on this issue, said John Johnson, outreach coordinator for the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus. “College and university administrators must become active in their state legislatures if they want to keep their right to maintain gun-free campuses.”