As Missouri Universities empower gun owners, Missouri State refuses to change policies

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The University of Missouri System Board of Curators voted last month to eliminate a rule that allowed only employees to keep firearms in their vehicles on campus. Now, some are calling for Missouri State University to follow suit. 

Mizzou’s rule change stems from a case brought against the University and the Board of Curators by MU Law Professor Royce Barondes in 2015. According to the Associated Press, the appeals court considered whether a university rule prohibiting weapons on campuses, except for campus police, conflicted with a state law that said state employees cannot be prohibited from having a gun on state property if the firearm is in a locked vehicle and cannot be seen. 

Barondes argued that the previous university rule prohibiting weapons on campus conflicted with his legal right to keep a firearm in his car as granted by state law – and he won. The rule change extended that right to MU students and visitors, and applies to all four University of Missouri System campuses. 

Instead of extending that Second Amendment right to students and visitors as Mizzou did, MSU, in Springfield, merely allows individuals to apply for a concealed carry permit. However, permits are approved on a case-by-case basis, so students’ and visitors’ Second Amendment right to keep firearms in their vehicles isn’t guaranteed on MSU’s campus as it is at all four University of Missouri campuses. 

“I applaud the Board of Curators for the University of Missouri System in their decision to allow students and visitors to possess firearms in their vehicles,” said Sen. Eric Burlison, who represents portions of Springfield. “I hope they continue in that direction and would like to see Missouri State’s Board follow suit.”

Burlison, a well-known advocate for Second Amendment rights, is also sponsoring SB 752 in the legislature, which would eliminate the majority of gun-free zones across Missouri, including on college campuses. 

A junior student at MSU who asked to remain anonymous told The Heartlander that crime has become rampant in downtown Springfield, which is where MSU is located, and that he was actually assaulted by multiple men walking to his car on campus in spring of 2020. He believes that’s even more of a reason for MSU to follow the University of Missouri’s lead and change their guidelines.  

“The crime continues to get worse near campus and University police haven’t done anything to make it feel safer,” he said. “I’d feel much safer if I was able to protect myself when I’m near my car than being empty-handed if something happens again like it did freshman year. If Mizzou can allow students to carry in their vehicles, so should MSU.”

The student also noted MSU’s harsh reputation with prioritizing parking tickets, yet disregarding continual crime and safety concerns on campus. 

“The university has always seemed more concerned with enforcing parking tickets than allowing students to protect themselves. We need to protect ourselves because they aren’t doing anything to do so. They send out alerts when a robbery or something does go wrong, but that doesn’t keep anybody safe after the fact. They already got robbed.”

The student’s concerns about MSU prioritizing parking tickets aren’t a new phenomenon, either. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt launched an investigation into MSU’s Office of University Safety in 2019 for whistleblower reports that campus officers were told to “step up” their game with regard to writing tickets. 

Director of University Safety David Hall told The Heartlander that MSU does not currently have plans to change its policy, and instead finds solace in the application process for a concealed carry permit, though it is not guaranteed to be approved.

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