COLUMBIA, Mo. — Four of the Missouri’s universities will allow firearms in parked vehicles. The cars don’t have to be locked, and the gun can be loaded.
The University of Missouri Board of Curators approved a resolution Friday allowing students, faculty, staff members and visitors to keep a loaded firearm out in the open in their unlocked car.
Students said Monday this new rule makes them feel unsafe, and some university officials are concerned this will cause an increase in theft and crime.
“Is this the best decision in the world? Probably not,” Mizzou freshman Julia Rankey said.
Faculty, staff, and student workers at the University of Missouri’s four campuses were already allowed to have a firearm in their car, but the vehicle had to be locked.
Board members voted 8-1 on Friday to open it up to all students and visitors. Under the resolution, the car does not have to be locked, the firearm can be loaded, and does not have to be stored away.
“I think that in the interest of freedom for students, including adults, students including commuter students in our commuter lots, I think it makes it uniform the faculty and staff have the same rules as our visitors,” Curator Todd Graves said.
Graves proposed the resolution during a special board meeting. He said he wants the UM System out of the politics of firearms.
“The way the current rule is faculty, staff, including student staff, can have a firearm in their vehicle, the only people that can’t are students,” Graves said. “We have a rule where the only people we punish because we could throw them out of school or suspend them or take the other actions and I think we have but the only ones we can punish is our students, and I think that’s not fair.”
The four campuses — University of Missouri St. Louis, University of Missouri Kansas City, University of Missouri Science and Technology and the University of Missouri Columbia — still prohibit open or concealed carry of firearms on campus, which includes no guns inside residence halls.
University of Missouri President Mun Choi is worried about what this means for safety.
“Sometimes they [students] leave their cars out there for several weeks at a time because they may use it when they go grocery shopping or when they go home,” Choi said. “Our four police chiefs indicated that they are concerned about gun thefts, and gun thefts lead to additional crimes.”
The approved resolution changes the university’s rules and regulations to remove all references of firearms in vehicles on campus. It says:
“The open possession of and discharge of firearms, weapons, and explosives on University property including University farms is prohibited except in regularly approved programs or by University agents or employees in the line of duty. This rule shall not be construed as consent to the possession of concealed firearms, weapons, or explosives on university property.”
The one curator that voted against the resolution was Greg Hoberock.
“I think somebody does something stupid by leaving a handgun on the seat, somebody else walks by, opens the car up and pulls it out,” Hoberock said. “I just think we are doing a tremendous disservice to our students and the citizens of Columbia.”
Hoberock said he spoke to the chancellors at the four universities about the topic. He said all of them agreed they did not want to see the rule change.
“I don’t think guns on our campuses in the hands of students is a good thing and I’m really concerned that we are going to allow guns on campuses and not have a rule that if you leave it in your car it’s got to be out of sight and locked,” Hoberock said. “If we change the rule, do I think there will be more guns in cars, probably not. Do I think there will be less guns in cars? Probably not. I think the number will be the same.”
Previously, the courts have ruled again the university with employees were prohibited from having a firearm in their vehicle, while on campus, a state law. MU law professor Royce Barondes sued the university back in 2015, which ended up costing MU more than $1 million.
Rankey, a freshman studying special education from O’Fallon, said she’s worried about safety on campus.
“There are already issues on campus,” Rankey said. “It’s a loaded gun, like, it’s not empty, it’s fully loaded. You could open up the door, grab the loaded gun and there you have it, you have a loaded gun in your hand.”
Choi said if a student does bring a firearm to school, campus police at all four universities do offer a safe place to secure it.