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Missouri bill expanding who can carry guns in schools moves forward in statehouse

LA Johnson

The Missouri House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education voted 14-3 Thursday morning to push forward legislation that would allow school administrators to increase the number of people who can carry guns in schools.

The legislation advanced on Thursday concerns school protection officers. Currently, school districts may designate only teachers or administrators as school protection officers. This bill adds other designated school personnel to the list of employees a district may designate as a school protection officer.

School protection officers have the authority to carry a weapon on school grounds if the officer has obtained a concealed carry endorsement permit.

State Rep. Kathy Steinhoff, a Democrat from Columbia, voted in support of the bill, but she made her stance on gun control in schools clear.

“I oppose guns in schools, so it was really hard for me to support this bill because on face value it looks like it’s against everything I believe in,” she said.

Steinhoff said it’s important that if people carry guns in schools, it must be the right person. “If a school board chooses to authorize someone to carry a gun in their schools, I want to make sure they have the flexibility to make sure that the right person is doing that,” she said.

Steinhoff added, “I believe the success of public schools lies in making sure that every position is filled by somebody who’s highly qualified and highly trained. I don’t see teachers and administrators being the ones who can carry out that sort of job duty.”

Kristin Bowen is a volunteer with the Missouri chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Her organization disagrees with the committee’s decision to advance the bill.

“We were disappointed, not surprised,” she said. “This is a bill that expands who can carry loaded guns in our K-12 schools in Missouri.”

Bowen argued any legislation that increases the number of potential guns that could be brought into a school is bad.

“We know, research shows, putting more guns in our schools puts kids in a position of being less safe, not more safe,” she said.

Steinhoff said that each district will have to make its own decision on who can be a school protection officer even if the new bill becomes law.

“This is not mandating it,” Steinhoff said. “It’s making it so that a school board can choose to do that. I hope that no school board chooses to do that.”

This story originally appeared in the Columbia Missourian. It can be republished in print or online. 

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