COLUMBIA, Mo. - The bench trial for the University of Missouri lawsuit over guns on campus began Wednesday, with witnesses called to the stand in support of keeping guns off campus after opening statements.
The lawsuit, which was originally filed by an MU law professor, was taken over by the Missouri Attorney General's Office in October and seeks to overturn a ban on carrying or storing guns on the campuses of University of Missouri System schools.
Circuit Judge Jeff Harris ruled in September that the ban does not violate state statute, but said the question of whether it violates the state constitution deserved more scrutiny, prompting this week's bench trial.
The AG's office argued on Wednesday that the university's gun ban was unconstitutional.
UM System lawyers called Dr. John Donohue of Stanford University as a witness. Donahue said his research found that areas that pass right-to-carry policies see a 14 percent increase in violent crime over the following decade.
However, state attorneys highlighted that Donohue's study did not specifically analyze crime on campuses or incidents with guns in trunks of cars.
University lawyers also called University of Missouri-St. Louis police chief Dan Freet to the stand. Freet said more people carrying guns on campus could lead to more gun accidents and complicate officers' jobs in scenarios such as active shooter threats.
Freet said on questioning from state attorneys that faculty and staff carrying guns or storing them on campus would not cause "an immediate uptick" in violent crime. Freet also testified that some people are likely already violating the on-campus gun ban.
UM System President Mun Choi is expected to testify Thursday. The trial was expected to last two days.
In court today for state's lawsuit against MU. Attorneys for @AGEricSchmitt arguing the university's gun ban for student/teachers is unconstitutional. @umsystem called Dr. John Donohue of Stanford Univ., who recently published a study on "right-to-carry" policies.— Barry Mangold ABC 17 News (@BarryMangold) August 14, 2019