Many university professors, administrators and students would like the new year to bring a rethinking of the campus-carry law, which mandates that state universities welcome concealed guns as of July 2017 in buildings that lack metal detectors and armed guards.
But “it’s a Second Amendment right,” an unsympathetic Gov. Sam Brownback recently told the Lawrence Journal-World. “Some people would look at some of the things I suppose under any constitutional right and question it, but it remains a constitutional right.”
Never mind that the right still has limits in Kansas, where it’s unlawful to carry a loaded firearm while under the influence, for example, and where K-12 schools and many private businesses still bar concealed-carry by posting approved signs.
The attitude among lawmakers and the governor is that campus-carry is coming, regardless of the consequences of mixing guns into the higher education environment – or the changed circumstances of concealed-carry in Kansas since the campus-carry law’s 2013 passage.
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Back then, when the Kansas Board of Regents and the universities it governs were given a four-year exemption, the law required Kansans who wanted to conceal and carry to have gun safety training and a permit. But the 2015 Legislature eliminated the training and permit requirements as part of its embrace of “constitutional carry” statewide.
In recent weeks, 70 distinguished professors at the University of Kansas and 40 distinguished professors at Kansas State University have expressed their opposition to the mandate, as has KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.
In preliminary results of an online survey of 20,000 students shared with the Kansas Board of Regents this month, 55 percent said they didn’t want guns allowed on campus and another 14 percent preferred further delay. Campus-carry found more support at certain schools including Wichita State University, where 43 percent of surveyed students favored letting the law take effect as scheduled in 2017 (compared with a total 57 percent who wanted a repeal or delay) and 60 percent supported allowing faculty and staff to carry concealed guns. When asked whether concealed-carry would make them less likely to attend their school, 42 percent of students statewide and 35 percent of Shockers said “yes.”
The 2015 Kansas Speaks statewide survey conducted by Fort Hays State University’s Docking Institute of Public Affairs also found that 58 percent of respondents opposed allowing firearms on college campuses except by security personnel. Only 31 percent of “strong Republican” respondents thought concealed or open carry should be allowed on campuses, with another 30 percent favoring giving colleges the ability to determine their own restrictions.
Having changed the rules of concealed-carry after passing the campus mandate, state leaders at least should listen to the stakeholders now and either allow more discretion over where guns must be allowed or postpone the implementation date.