The Buzz

Push to allow concealed guns on Missouri campuses wins support of Chris Koster

Attorney General Chris Koster, the Democratic nominee for governor
Attorney General Chris Koster, the Democratic nominee for governor

The Democratic nominee for Missouri governor filed a lawsuit this week in support of a University of Missouri professor’s efforts to bring a concealed weapon on campus.

Royce Barondes, an associate professor at the University of Missouri School of Law, filed a lawsuit last year challenging a rule by the university’s board of curators prohibiting concealed firearms on campus even if they are stored in a locked vehicle. The lawsuit argues the rule violates state law and the Missouri Constitution, which voters amended in 2014 to strengthen gun rights in the state.

Attorney General Chris Koster, who won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination earlier this month, filed a lawsuit of his own Tuesday in support of Barondes and arguing that the university rule conflicts with state law and is therefore unenforceable.

Koster’s lawsuit notes that a concealed carry permit does not authorize a person to carry a gun into a higher education institution without the consent of the university’s governing body. But possession of a firearm in a vehicle is not a criminal offense, he said. University employees who hold valid concealed-carry permits, the lawsuit argues, must be allowed to keep firearms locked in their vehicles while parked on campus property.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office said the lawsuit was filed “to ensure that Missouri statutes and constitution are applied correctly and responsibly.​”

In May, the Missouri House approved a bill that would have allowed university employees to carry a concealed weapon on campus, although students would have still been prohibited. The legislation never got traction in the Missouri Senate.

Koster, who faced Republican Eric Greitens in the governor’s race this fall, has regularly broken with his party’s base on the issue of guns, most recently by supporting a bill vetoed by Demcoratic Gov. Jay Nixon that would eliminate permit requirements to carry a concealed weapon.

He’s widely considered to be in the running for the NRA endorsement this fall. He won the gun-rights group’s endorsement in his 2012 campaign for attorney general.