House hears bill that could arm higher education employees

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JEFFERSON CITY - State lawmakers heard a bill Monday night that would allow college and university employee's to carry weapons on campus.

House Bill 575 would allow qualified employees to become campus protection officers and carry either a weapon or a non-lethal self defense spray.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Dean Dohrman (R-51). He said the bill could help save valuable time in tragic situations where every second counts.

"The idea is to get more people on site that could help with safety, getting people into area’s where they would not be hit by fire and so forth," Dohrman said. "The idea is not to rush out and try to be a hero, the idea is to keep the public safe.”

Dohrman said he wrote the bill with large campuses like MU in mind.

"It’s hard to have complete coverage, even with the amount of campus police that they have," he said. "This would put a person potentially in every building that you could rely on to help in a bad situation.”

Lobbyists from the Missouri Community College Association and Council on Public Higher Education testified in support. No one testified in oppostion.

Rep. Greg Razer (D-25) was the only committee member to offer opposition, questioning the need for such a bill he called the "designated shooters" bill.

"Where have we gone wrong in society that we feel like we need to have designated shooters in our religious studies class in MU?" he said.

Noting the lack of mass shooting in countries other than the U.S., Razer called for a different approach to what he called a societal problem.

"It’s a uniquely American problem and we need to find a uniquely American solution to it,” he said.

The hearing wasn't the first time committee members heard the bill. Dohrman pitched a similar bill last year. 

It died in committee meeting vote, one that Razer said he remembers because it was the same day as the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

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