Students for conceal and carry on campus
By Matt Grant
May 11, 2008
COLUMBIA -- A nationwide grassroots effort is trying to get concealed handguns allowed on all college campuses.
It's been a year since the Virginia Tech massacre and many are still numb with grief.
"Despite the fact that Blacksburg is a very safe and friendly town...there's no guarantees of safety," said Ken Stanton, a Virginia Tech student. "So I took it on as a personal responsibility to protect myself."
Stanton is part of a national organization called Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, which advocates for the right to carry concealed weapons at colleges and universities.
Still, campus shootings are rare. In fact, the rate of violence on college campuses is much lower than the rest of society.
But Paul Ready, an MU senior, isn't taking any chances. He carries his gun with him everywhere it's legal.
"I don't think there's any such thing as an overreaction," said Ready. "When it comes to personal safety."
Ready heads a local chapter of the national organization at MU. He says they currently have about 70 members.
"I don't think there's anybody in our organization who desires to be in a campus shooting situation," said Ready. "But what we do want is at least a chance" to survive.
It's MU policy, not state law, that keeps handguns - concealed or not - off their campus. Utah is the only state that allows guns at all public universities. At least 12 others are considering legislation to allow them.
Rep. Brian Munzlinger (R-Williamstown) agrees with Ready. The Republican Representative, whose daughter is a sophomore at MU, proudly displays a large, framed copy of the Second Amendment above his desk. He says since trained, licensed students can bring their guns other places, they should be able to bring them to class as a means of protection.
"We rely on the security, the police that we have in these local areas," said Munzlinger. "But unfortunately they're not on site all the time and aren't there maybe when they're needed the most."
MU Police have 30 officers for more than 20,000 students.
The Concealed Carry on Campus group has gained popularity through Facebook, the online social networking Web site. They currently have more than 30,000 members nationwide.
But not everyone agrees with the group.
Matt Shepley's high school friend was among the five killed at Northern Illinois University, during a campus shooting in February. Shepley, a sophomore at MU, doesn't think guns should be allowed on campus for any reason.
"I think it's a little ridiculous," said Shelpley. "I don't think students really should be carrying any kind of gun to class, be it for protection or to harm anyone. I think that's why we have the police and that's why they carry the guns."
MU's police chief agrees and says allowing students to pack heat would be a mistake.
"What if you had two people who had conceal and carry and then you had one bad guy," said Chief Jack Watring. "How do you know who that is? How does each one of the carrying concealed people know who each other are? How do they know who the bad guy is?"
Watring says the group, though popular nationwide, only represents a small minority of the MU campus. But Ready is pushing forward. He hopes to have help from lawmakers, like Munzlinger, to get a law passed in Missouri.
Munzlinger says more research needs to be done but that he would support such a bill, if drafted properly.
MU's Chancellor says carrying a concealed gun to class would be inappropriate and that most faculty would be uncomfortable with the idea.
At least 40 states allow residents to carry concealed weapons. Missouri's law is considered one of the toughest. For example, you must be at least 23 years old and complete an eight hour training course. And you can't carry a gun into a bar or a number of other places.
Students for Concealed Carry on Campus web site