MSA Senate votes to oppose Prop 2 Taser ban

The proposition makes it a misdemeanor for anyone in Columbia to use a Taser.
Chris Hessenflow of the Columbia Police Officers Association discusses the issue of Tasers on campus Wednesday at the Missouri Student Association Senate Meeting in Chamber Auditorium. The Senate passed a resolution in support of Taser use, opposing the Proposition 2 ballot measure.

The Missouri Students Association Senate voted to pass a resolution expressing its opposition to Proposition 2, a ballot measure that would ban personal Taser use, on Wednesday night. The Senate's decision is in agreement with the Columbia Police Officers Association.

“The proposed ordinance would make it a Class A misdemeanor for citizens, including police officers, to use or threaten to use Tasers, stun guns or any other conducted electrical device against any person within the City,” the official Proposition 2 ballot language states.

According to the MSA legislation, passage of the MSA resolution shows the association's support of a “NO” vote on Proposition 2 on Nov. 2. This resolution puts MSA in agreement with the Columbia Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee and the Columbia Police Officers Association.

The resolution was passed with 19 votes in favor. Eight senators voted in opposition, with two abstaining.

“We’re not saying we’re pro-Taser, we’re just against the ban,” Wood said.

MSA Operations Committee Chairman Justin Mohn said this was an issue of student safety.

“The equipment (that) cops are allowed to carry affects students,” Mohn said. “It’s an issue of student and Columbia safety.”

At Senate, Mohn gave a speech in favor of the resolution. During floor discussion, Senator Tom Wright said he spoke on behalf of the students who were in support of the passage of the proposition, but that he would need to do his own research before making a personal decision.

“I wanted to table (the resolution) or vote no on the resolution at hand,” Wright said. “We need to think about the other side.”

Wright said he did not think it was right for the student government to decide on what the school believes when the student population is unaware of what is happening.

“I was fighting for people who may not want police to have Tasers,” Wright said.

Greg Loeffler, Campus and Community Relations Committee chairman, said he and his committee spent several weeks discussing the Taser issue before making a resolution and bringing it to the Senate floor.

“The Columbia Police Officers Association came to us for support on keeping Tasers,” Loeffler said. “They are the ones heading up the whole thing.”

Proposition 2 will be on the Columbia ballot on election day Nov. 2. Residents may vote to either support or oppose the ban on Taser usage by Columbia police officers and citizens.

Upon passage of the MSA resolution, Wood and Loeffler sent an endorsement letter to the Columbia Police Officers Association, including Officer Chris Hessenflow, who spoke in opposition of the ban at Senate.

“As the recognized governing body of the undergraduate students at the University of Missouri, we feel that the passage of Proposition 2 on November 2 would not be in the best interest of students and the Columbia community as a whole,” the endorsement letter stated. “The ability of law enforcement to use Taser’s is something that this body feels is necessary to ensure the safety of the community and the officers that protect it.”

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