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The Missouri House of Representatives gave initial approval to a bill that would allow concealed carry of firearms on college campuses for faculty April 2.

House Bill 258 is sponsored by Rep. Jered Taylor (R-Mo.) along with a second piece of legislation that would allow students to carry on college campuses as well.

“I think the underlying bill is a good idea, but then adding my legalization, my amendment, I think makes it better,” Taylor said. “It gives not only faculty and staff but now it also allows students to carry concealed weapons on college campuses.”

The bill would only apply to people who have a concealed carry weapons permit, but a person who has a permit is not required to carry.

“It is not requiring anyone to carry, it is just giving them the opportunity if they so choose too as long as they are law-abiding citizens and they go through the training,” Taylor said.

Taylor said he proposed the bill because it would allow students to protect themselves.

“We are seeing a huge increase in sexual assault and violent crime on college campuses, and I want to be able to give people the ability to protect themselves in those situations,” Taylor said. “Fifteen percent of women are being raped on campus, and it is a God-given and constitutionally secured right to defend yourself in one of those situations, so I want to give students the ability to do that.”

According to RAINN, 11.2% of all college students experience rape or sexual assault.

According to the Columbia Missourian, during the debate April 2 Rep. Tracy McCreery (D-Mo.) said she did not believe the bill would create a safer environment on campuses. She said she also took issue with the idea that women would have guns to protect them from sexual assault as most cases involve someone the victim knows.

Deb Lavender (D-Mo.) echoed McCreery’s statement saying guns would not stop rapes.

“If you want to stop sexual assaults, teach boys to stop assaulting women,” Lavender said during the debate.

Taylor said he hopes this bill will cause a decrease in crime across Missouri college campuses as it has been effective in other states.

“Kansas saw a 60% decrease in violent crimes on campus, they’ve seen an overall decrease in crimes in general on their campus,” Taylor said. “(In) Texas they’ve seen similar numbers because it is a deterrent when criminals know individuals are able to stop them not to commit that crime.”

Taylor said he believes this bill will also give immediate protection instead of individuals having to wait for emergency responders.

“Whereas they (criminals) know that they can go into other areas, gun free zones, that there is no one to stop them until law enforcement arrives, which is five, 10, 12 minutes away on average in the state of Missouri when your life is being threatened immediately,” Taylor said.

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