Anti-gun group tries to halt conceal-and-carry campus legislation
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Anti-gun group tries to halt conceal-and-carry campus legislation

Date: April 29, 2009
By: Sarah D. Wire
State Capitol Bureau
Links: HB 668

JEFFERSON CITY - A four-bullet survivor of the Virginia Tech shootings urged Missouri lawmakers on Wednesday to abandon the idea of letting students pack heat.

"I don't think this is a way to prevent the situation in the future," said Colin Goddard, who was shot in the knee, both hips and the shoulder in the Virginia Tech shootings. "I think it's a knee-jerk reaction."

A movement to allow students, faculty and staff to carry concealed weapons on college campuses started after the 2007 shootings on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Va., which killed 32 people and wounded many others.

Similar legislation is pending in Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas. Utah is the only state to currently allow concealed weapons on college campuses.

Goddard called the day of the shootings "the craziest day of my life." He said that even if students were armed, they would not be able to react quickly enough to stop a shooter.

"I can only imagine the day would have been crazier if there would have been multiple people with multiple guns," Goddard said. "It's not like the movies. It's the most chaotic situation."

Goddard said people who think armed students could have stopped the Virginia Tech shootings don't know what they are talking about.

"People who say, 'Oh, I would have shot him that day' and 'I would have ended it' -- I don't think they're really thinking everything through, and if they're ever in a situation like that, I don't think they know how they'd react," he said.

But that's the argument the bill's supporters are using -- that a well-trained student with a weapon could stop a shooting before it escalates.

"I'm not saying it'll save everybody, but it could stop a massacre," said Rep. Brian Munzlinger, R-Williamstown.

Munzlinger, who supported the bill in the House, said it is speculation to imagine that an armed student couldn't stop a shooter.

Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Jackson County, said that the issue is controversial and may not pass the Senate, but he said he thinks it is still important.

"I feel like some of these tragedies would have been avoided if we had conceal and carry on university campuses," Bartle said on Tuesday. "I personally agree that we should not have a conceal carry restriction for college campuses."

After the news conference on Wednesday, Bartle said he had no further comment on the bill.

The bill passed the House last week and got an initial hearing in the Senate. But its chances of passing in the Senate are not great, some senators have said.

The proposed bill lowers the legal age to have a conceal-and-carry permit to 21 from 23 for those who have a valid permit and at least eight hours of training.

Officials for the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus, the group that held the news conference, say that allowing guns on campus will lead to more successful suicide attempts and that students may not be skilled enough to take out a potential shooter without adding to the problem.

"Where there are more dogs, there are more dog bites," spokesman John Johnston said. "The answer to gun violence is not more guns."

He said that colleges and universities cannot stand on the sidelines of the issue.

Several Missouri university presidents have spoken against the bill currently before the state Senate. They say there is no compelling evidence that having concealed weapons will increase student safety.

University of Missouri System President Gary Forsee has said that the measure would increase the risk that students, faculty and staff would be put in harm's way.