Guns on campus: Anything goes

By Ethan Ball

On April 2, 2015, Gov. Sam Brownback signed Kansas Senate Bill 45, or the “Constitution Carry Bill,” into law.

This bill ended the permit and safety-training requirements for concealed carry of handguns.

As long as a citizen has no felony record and is not prohibited from possessing a firearm, under either federal or state law, and is over 21 years old, it is lawful to carry a gun without a permit, concealed or not.

However, a license is required for anyone wanting to carry a concealed weapon in 36 other states that accept Kansas permits.

The Kansas law has a provision that says colleges and universities, being public property, cannot prohibit firearm carrying unless each building has security measures, such as armed guards and metal detectors at all entrances.

Brett Bright, vice president of student services, is fine with colleges being unable to prohibit concealed carry. The cost of security measures would be too high, he said.

“You just look at the intrinsic costs of each building, and that’s going to come back and effect our tuition rates,” he said.

Dr. Carter file, president of Hutchinson Community College, said state law dictates our gun policy.

Colleges will not be able to create rules that limit students’ access to guns on campus.

“We can’t make it more difficult for people to carry a firearm on campus than the state law permits,” he said.

HCC currently has an exemption that will run out in 2017.

There are other things out of the control of the colleges.

Background checks will not be ran when purchasing handguns from private sellers. The colleges, also, cannot require background checks of students who wish to carry guns, whether concealed or visible.

Safety training is no longer required. File addressed that: “Not mandatorily, we would highly recommend people take the training.”

Bright said, “A lot of students are raised around guns. For individuals who haven’t been around guns I think that training really needs to occur, just for safety reasons.”

Colleges can’t ban guns in the dorms. “The dorms are still considered a public building if they’re owned by the college,” File said.

“The law makes it difficult for public entities to put any restriction on carrying a firearm,” he said. Personally, he feels guns shouldn’t be on campus at all.

“I believe in the 2nd Amendment and I think the 2nd Amendment clearly says ‘Own and bear arms,’ but I believe there are sensible restrictions that most people should be able to agree on.”

Bright said, “I see the Second Amendment for what it is, but I do see value in concealed-carry permits.”

File said he would ask our legislators to leave the choice up to each college’s board of trustees.

“Let them govern the buildings,” he said. “If the board of trustees, in conjunction with the student government, the pulse of the student body, decide ‘Let’s allow guns,’ then allow them.”

File said his main concerns are accidents, such as an accidental discharge.

“It leaves open opportunity for accidents to happen,” he said.

Bright said “If we had a shooting on campus and more than one person had a gun whenever law enforcement comes, how do they know who the bad guy is?”

File concluded the interview saying “I think you have the right to own and bear; I just think there needs to be some sensible restrictions. Not having them on college campuses is a good idea.”

If the trustees, in conjunction with student government, decide to allow guns, then it should be done, he said.

File said his main concerns are accidents, such as an accidental discharge.

Bright added, “If we had a shooting on campus and more than one person had a gun, whenever law enforcement comes, how do they know who the bad guy is?”

File summed up his thoughts on the matter, saying people in the U.S. have the right to bear arms.

“I just think there needs to be some sensible restrictions. Not having them on college campuses is a good idea,” he said.

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