Any public school teacher or administrator with a concealed-weapon permit would be allowed to carry guns in Missouri schools under a bill filed this week in the state House.
Republican Rep. Mike Kelley of Lamar is sponsoring the legislation and has 24 co-sponsors, including House Speaker Tim Jones and House Majority Leader John Diehl. It comes less than a week after a man shot and killed 26 victims — including 20 children — at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Missouri law now prohibits anyone except law enforcement from bringing a weapon into a public school. But following the Connecticut shooting, some Republicans around the nation have argued that similar tragedies could be avoided in the future by arming school personnel.
“You don’t create a safe environment by banning guns from an area,” Rep. Eric Burlison, a Springfield Republican, told the Springfield News-Leader. “All you’re doing is creating an area that is a focal point for criminals with guns to concentrate.”
Similar arguments have been made by Republican members of Congress and numerous GOP state officials, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
The idea has been decried by gun-control advocates.
“Think about what that’s saying,” Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, told Politico. “It’s saying the only answer to violence is more violence. The only answer to guns is more guns. insane.”
So far, the only other gun-related bill filed in Missouri would require school districts and charter schools to provide training and education about firearms safety to teachers. It also would require all first-graders to participate in a gun safety program organized by the National Rifle Association.
Earlier this year, the Missouri House garnered national attention when it overwhelmingly approved legislation banning discrimination against Missourians who lawfully carry a concealed weapon. The bill never came up for a vote in the Missouri Senate.
In recent years, the Republican-controlled legislature has lowered the age requirement for a concealed carry permit, expanded the state’s self-defense law, and allowed lawmakers and staff to carry firearms in the state Capitol.