concealed carry

Provost Neeli Bendapudi speaks at a session about concealed carry in February at Budig Hall.

As the University prepares for guns on campus, many students and faculty are still raising concerns over safety and security.

At an information session in Budig Hall on Wednesday night, University Police Chief Chris Keary, Provost Neeli Bendapudi and professor Mike Williams walked through the fine print of the law and the University’s proposed weapons policy and answered questions from the audience.

Kansas universities are currently exempt from the 2013 law which allows the concealed carry of handguns by anyone 21 or older in any state or municipal building, unless those buildings have adequate security measures. The exemption for universities expires on July 1.

The weapons policy, which the Board of Regents approved last semester, specifies guidelines for concealed carry on campus. For example, those who wish to carry a firearm must carry it in a holster that covers the trigger, and anyone found to be in violation of the policy has the potential to be removed from campus.

Earlier this month, KU Athletics announced it will seek to put metal detectors in Allen Fieldhouse, Memorial Stadium and Rock Chalk Park. Keary said these security measures will likely be temporary. Furthermore, he said there will be potential for departments or organizations to request security at certain events, but permanent security measures will most likely not be provided for most buildings.

Despite the University’s efforts to implement safety measures within the confines of the law, many were still concerned about its impact on the campus.

“People are malicious anyway. When they have a gun on them, the chances of that turning violent or deadly increase,” said graduate student Megan Jones after the event. “Now, instead of somebody just calling someone a slur when they’re walking down the street, maybe they’ll show them their gun too.”

Members of the University community have been vocal about their opposition to guns on campus — including testifying in the Kansas legislature and publicly protesting. Right now, however, the goal of the University is to do as much as possible to inform the public on how to be safe with guns on campus, Williams said during the event.

Some people, like Professor Ron Barrett-Gonzalez, said the University should be taking a more proactive stance to stop the law from going into effect.

“I’m really concerned about the entire approach here, that it’s looking at it as if it’s a 100 percent done deal, and we have nothing to do but hide and plan for the big terrible event,” said Barrett-Gonzalez, a chapter president of the American Association of University Professors, during the event.

Certain Kansas legislators have been making an effort to stop guns on campus before the exemption expires. One bill, HB 2074, would allow universities to indefinitely exempt themselves from the law and is still alive in the statehouse.

“So I’m asking why don’t we at least on public website, post information about the state of the laws and the legislators that are voting one way or another, because we do have a chance to save ourselves and there are events that are taking place that can contribute to saving our community in many ways,” Barrett-Gonzalez said during the event. 

However, the University faces a dilemma when it comes to stopping concealed carry. Keary and Williams explained that it is illegal for University employees to use state resources to advocate for or against guns. 

“The legislature’s put the University in kind of a bind, really,” Jones said.

The information session lasted two hours and was attended by about 30 people — mostly faculty and administrators. At the end of the night Jones said she thought the information presented was helpful, but inadequate.

“I’m glad it’s happening and I’m glad that we have some answers,” she said. “However, I think that we need more.”

— Edited by Sean Collins