Missouri lawmakers are debating a bill that would allow concealed weapons on college campuses -- drawing sharp criticism from opponents who claim the measure would make places of higher education less safe.
A Senate committee began hearing testimony Wednesday on a bill that would only allow campuses to ban concealed weapons if the school posts armed guards and metal detectors at every entrance to every campus building.
Bill sponsor Sen. Brian Munzlinger, a Republican, said mass shooters can kill many people in the time it takes for police to arrive, arguing that law-abiding citizens with proper training can save lives in that situation.
"If you look at all of the mass shootings, those individuals have targeted gun free zones," Munzlinger told FoxNews.com Thursday.
Under current law, a concealed carry permit does not allow a person to carry concealed firearms into any higher education institution without the consent of the governing body of the institution or a school official.
Munzlinger's bill, "requires the Department of Public Safety to grant an exemption for a higher education institution if the institution can demonstrate the permanent placement of security personnel and electronic weapons screening devices at each entrance to any building on the property, a requirement that security personnel screen each person entering the building for weapons, and a requirement that any weapons found be held by security personnel while the person is in the building."
Munzlinger, however, called armed guards and metal detectors a "very pricey alternative" and "one I hope they don’t have to take."
Allowing concealed carry weapons on campuses, "won't stop every instance but it certainly would stop the duration and more people will live," Munzlinger told FoxNews.com.
Munzlinger said the very act of allowing those with concealed permits to carry guns will act act as a deterrant for possible future shootings.
"Maybe your deranged killer or your terrorist won’t target those places if they know it’s not a gun free zone," he said.
Royce Barondes, an associate professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law, filed a lawsuit challenging his university's gun ban.
"Common sense tells us that people who commit crimes with guns are not deterred by gun-free zones. In fact, they are attracted to them because they know the law-abiding people there will be unable to defend themselves," the Bukowsky Law Firm, which represents Barondes, writes on its website.
"Royce holds a valid CCW permit, has extensive training in the lawful use and safe handling of firearms, and even teaches Firearms Law at the law school. Disarming him does not make campus safer," the firm argues.
Many school officials, however, remain steadfast in their opposition to allowing guns on campus.
Missouri State University President Clif Smart said binge drinking and mental health crises are more common in college, and adding more guns to that mix would be a bad idea.
In written testimony obtained by FoxNews.com, Smart argued before the Senate committee that the school's senior administrative team regularly does, "table top simulations on active shooter scenarios and other emergencies."
"Unlike the law in some other states, current law in Missouri allows 19 year olds to get a CCW permit," Smart told the committee. "That means that if these bills are passed, we will see a dramatic landscape shift on our campuses."
Among Smart's concerns is the rate of suicide on college campuses.
"Multiple studies have shown that suicide rates increase when access to guns increases," he said. "I am concerned that allowing students to have firearms on campus will increase the already-too-high rate of suicide on college campuses."
Smart also voiced apprehension over allowing guns in places where binge drinking is common.
"About 50 percent of college students binge drink, and studies show that intoxicated people are much more likely to engage in acts of violence than sober people," he noted. "I am worried that adding guns will turn the fist-fights into gun fights."
FoxNews.com's Cristina Corbin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.