Sen. Dave Schatz’s Weekly Column for Feb. 4

Schatz- weeklyColumn

The Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, the right to self-defense, and the right to obtain a concealed carry permit after fulfilling proper training requirements are all very important liberties to me. I am a lifelong champion of the Second Amendment and the core right of citizens to defend themselves. That is why I paid close attention as two bills dealing with concealed carry on college campuses were heard recently in the Senate Transportation, Infrastructure, and Public Safety Committee, in which I serve.

Currently, state law bans concealed weapons on our college campuses and these bills would repeal that aspect of state law. Senate Bill 731 and Senate Bill 589 are the bills in question. Testimony was lengthy and often passionate with many Second Amendment advocates arguing in favor of the legislation and many academics from across the state arguing against them.

During testimony about this legislation, it was pointed out repeatedly that mass shooters can kill many people in the time it takes for police to arrive. Some statistics show, on average, it takes just over 12 minutes for law enforcement to respond to an active shooter situation. Statistics from mass shootings show a person is killed nearly every 17 seconds. To me, it makes sense that law-abiding citizens with proper training can save lives in an emergency situation like this.

Testimony also raised legitimate concerns over securing firearms in crowded and small dormitory rooms. As these bills move through the legislative process, I will be open to fair compromises, but I will hold steady in my belief that law-abiding students and staff that can safely secure their firearms have a right to concealed carry on campuses.

Current law in Missouri allows 19 year olds to get a concealed carry permit, which means many college-aged Missourians can obtain a concealed carry permit. College staff are typically all of age to obtain a concealed carry permit. It is important to note that these permits require hours of training. Background checks are completed, training is completed, and the permit is issued by the local sheriff’s department.

Criminals carry guns with no permit and no training. Mass shootings happen in gun-free zones and I believe that leaving our campuses as gun-free zones actually puts our students at risk. Criminals do not follow the law, stating a place is a gun-free zone means nothing to them.

I have visited with college students and staff that want concealed carry on their campuses so that campuses will no longer be a soft target. I believe the Senate bills 731 and 589 are both good pieces of legislation, which make our state and our students safer.

Thank you for reading this weekly column. Please contact my office at (573) 751-3678 if you have any questions.