Evidence-based policy: guns on campuses, STEM scholarships

Updated: May 4, 2019

By Emily Daniel

Update 5/4/19: A public hearing was scheduled on 4/16/19 and held on 4/18/19 in the Missouri Senate. A committee meeting was held 4/25/19, and HB575 was passed from the senate committee on the same day (see Senate Committee Substitute bill text here).

House Bill 575

On Monday 4/8/19, the Missouri House of Representatives voted 98-52 to pass a bill, HB 575, that alters Missouri law regarding higher education institutions. This includes a "STEM studies enhancement scholarship" to be part of a dual-credit program already offered by Missouri. (STEM = science, technology, engineering, and math)

Among other new provisions, HB 575 also adds to Missouri law provisions for campus safety regarding weapons.

  • public or private colleges/universities in Missouri "may designate one or more full-time faculty or staff members as campus protection officers" in addition to normal responsibilities who can conceal carry firearms or self-defense spray devices/ (proposed RSMo Section 173.2551)

  • Institutions can make policies about firearms, but these policies cannot prohibit anyone on the campus from carrying, chambering, storage, or active operation of a concealed firearm. (proposed RSMo Section 571.109)

In Missouri, anyone can conceal carry a firearm. Anyone 19 years of age or older can hold a permit for concealed carry.

Support and Opposition: guns on campus

Legislators who support this bill have claimed that allowing female students to carry firearms will help protect them from sexual assault and that our right to defend ourselves should be protected. Some supporters also claim that making college campuses "gun-free zones" leaves them vulnerable to gun violence, where an attacker would be unopposed until security officers or police arrived. Others claim that as tax-payer funded institutions, public universities should not be exempt from state gun carry laws like permitted concealed carry.

Opponents claim that allowing guns on college campuses, including concealed guns, does not make them safer. They cite the increased risk of accidental shots leading to injury, increased risk of unsafe gun use correlating with high alcohol consumption or stress. Additionally, allowing guns -- and even the active carrying of loaded firearms -- may not reduce sexual assault prevalence or severity. Last year, presidents and chancellors of Missouri public education institutions submitted testimony that their institutions do not believe that allowing firearms on campuses would make them safer. Some legislators have claimed that students and parents generally want campuses to remain gun-free. Such students and parents might want their schools to ensure a learning environment free from "fear, distrust, and uncertainty" and other stressors related to concealed carry on campus.

There are yet other arguments for and against gun carry and use on campuses not mentioned here.

Some of the arguments for and against gun carry assume that allowing concealed carry of firearms on campuses will lead to increased concealed carry on campuses.

How does science inform this policy?

Note: Do not consider this section definitive. This information was easily accessible and does not necessarily represent all of the available research. Gun safety is a complex topic, and research on this topic in also considerably complex and nuanced.

Webster et al. 2016 offer the most comprehensive review of available research that the author of this post found, and we encourage you to read through this review to inform your opinions about the safety of guns on campuses. Note that the authors of that review argue against right to carry firearms on campuses. Claim: Allowing carry of firearms on campus will help protect victims of potential or enacted sexual assault.

Studies have suggested: Allowance of carrying firearms on college campuses does not likely change the prevalence of sexual assaults. In terms of general self defense not including sexual assaults, using the National Crime Victimization Survey, "After controlling for a host of contextual factors, self-defensive gun use did not significantly affect victims’ risk of being injured in the criminal act." (Source)

Claim: Gun-free zones are prone to crime (e.g. mass shootings), and allowing conceal carry will reduce the likelihood of these crimes.

Studies suggest: Laws that allow rights to carry on campuses "Do Not Reduce Mass Shootings or Casualties from Such Shootings". Similarly, " There is No Evidence that “Gun-Free Zones” Facilitate Mass Shootings"(source) Claim: Right-to-carry laws may increase risk of violence, especially on college campuses.

Studies suggest: Multiple studies with controls for other factors show that RTC laws have been associated with an increase of violence after law adoption. Further, college campuses are have many persons whose age is scientifically associated with factors that could exacerbate violence and crime with guns. (source)

Contact your representative in the Senate.

Find your Missouri state senator's contact information here to share your thoughts on this bill.

See how your Kansas City area representatives voted:

"On motion of Representative Dohrman, HB 575 was read the third time and passed by the following vote" AYES: 098 Black (Chillicothe) Bondon (Belton) Coleman 32 (Grain Valley) Falkner III (St. Joseph) Haffner (Pleasant Hill) Kidd (Buckner) Kolkmeyer (Odessa) Neely (Cameron) Patterson (Lee's Summit) Pfautsch (Harrisonville) Richey (Excelsior Springs) Shields (St. Joseph) Solon (St. Joseph) Stacy (Blue Springs) Wilson (Smithville) NOES: 052 Barnes (Raytown) Brown 27 (Kansas City) Burnett (Kansas City) Carpenter (Kansas City) Ellebracht (Libarty) Ellington (Kansas City) Ingle (Lee's Summit) McGee (Kansas City) Morgan (Kansas City) Razer (Kansas City) Rogers (Kansas City) Rowland (Independence) Runions (Grandview) Sain (Kansas City) Sauls (Independence) Washington (Kansas City)


Allred (Parkville)

Bland Manlove (Kansas City)

Roeber (Lee's Summit)

Shull (Gashland, KC)



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