Lawmakers consider halting concealed carry on college campuses
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Anyone wanting to legally carry a concealed gun on the Wichita State campus will be allowed to starting July 1 under state law.
That could change if state lawmakers are successful in weakening the law that allows concealed guns on state college campuses.
A bill introduced to the Kansas State Legislature would permanently exempt several types of health care facilities and universities from the Kansas Personal and Family Protection Act, passed in 2013, which will allow concealed guns on college campuses in Kansas beginning in July.
Other lawmakers seek to extend the exemption to allow more time for research on the issue of concealed carry.
Student Government Association passed a resolution in November calling on the Campus Issues Committee and SGA Legislative Director Marilyn Morton to work with the General Counsel’s office and Governmental Relations to delay the exemption preventing concealed guns on campus until July 1, 2020. The resolution passed with 27 in favor, four against and two abstentions.
Ultimately, the resolution called on WSU, other universities and the Legislature to do more research about the issue, Student Body President Joseph Shepard said.
“It wasn’t saying we were opposed to it or we’re for it, it was right now we are opposed to it, but we’re not opposed to it being on campus, however we do believe that more research needs to be done in order for us to realize, ‘Hey, people who don’t go through background checks are more likely to utilize these guns in a violent way,’” Shepard said.
While Shepard is personally opposed to concealed guns on campus, he said he realizes he represents a diverse population with many students in support of concealed guns.
One of Shepard’s fraternity brothers wants to carry a gun on campus.
“Looking at him and knowing that he is a good person, he just wants to feel protected at all times,” Shepard said. “I have to consider it’s not necessarily doing without it, it’s where are places where it should be allowed? Where are places it shouldn’t be allowed?”
Like Shepard, sophomore Megan Plantz is opposed to concealed guns on campus.
“I don’t want more guns on campus,” Plantz said. “It doesn’t promote a sense of safety. It’s kind of a little bit scarier to have more people walking around with guns.”
Others favor allowing concealed guns on campus. Dalton Glasscock, a former member of SGA, shared a post on Facebook earlier this month about SGA passing the concealed carry resolution.
In his post, Glasscock wrote, “The Student Government Association of Wichita State does not speak for me. Campus Carry is one of the most responsible pieces of legislation the Kansas Legislature has passed during this past session. Campus Carry ensures the safety of every student in our Kansas classrooms.”
One concern about allowing concealed guns on campus that Shepard and Plantz have involves guns in campus dorm rooms.
A student accidentally shot and wounded himself in a residence hall Sunday night at Kansas State University, the Associated Press reported.
“I’ve spoken with the RAs (Resident Assistants) over in Shocker Hall and they don’t want concealed carry over in those dorms,” Shepard said. “They don’t know how to handle a situation like that.”
Plantz said access to guns should not be so easy.
“The more available the guns are, the less stable things are,” she said. “Things can get out of hand really quickly when you have guns involved.”
During the November election, Kansans voted in more moderate Republicans and more Democrats, making the State Legislature more moderate than it was when the Kansas Personal and Family Protection Act passed in 2013.
That has supporters of extending the exemption or not allowing guns on campus hopeful the new bill will get more support than it would have before now.
“We may see [campus concealed carry] disappear completely, we may see it limited, or we may see that they may make it to be more lenient,” Shepard said. “I think we need to be prepared for that as an institution.”