As concealed carry on campus comes to the University this Saturday, the Kansan put together many of the frequently asked questions about campus carry and tried to answer them. More information can be found on the University's concealed carry website.
Q: Why are we getting guns on campus?
A: Back in 2013, the state legislature passed an amendment to the Personal and Family Protection Act. The law mandates that all public facilities, with the exception of public schools, should be open to concealed carry unless they provide adequate security measures. Adequate security measures include metal detectors at all public access entrances and armed security personnel to go with them.
Q: How does this apply to the University?
A: Since the University is owned and operated by the state, it and all the other public colleges and universities in Kansas fall under the definition of public institutions. The law states that any facility that a postsecondary education institution leases or owns is under the jurisdiction of the law. At the University, that includes all academic, Student Housing, athletic and administrative facilities.
Q: If the law passed in 2013, why are we just now dealing with it?
A: When the law was passed, most institutions were given the opportunity to apply for a four-year exemption. All of the public colleges and universities in Kansas did. The exemption expires July 1, 2017.
The upcoming campus carry policy has driven some professors to rethink the way they teach, including offering virtual versions of the classroom or temporarily not teaching classes at all.
Q: So anyone will be able to walk into Budig 120 with a gun?
A: Yes, and no. There are certain restrictions that still apply with this law. Only concealed carry, not open carry, is allowed on campus, so you should never be able to see another student’s handgun in a public area. Moreover, the law only applies to people 21 years old or older. As of 2015, though, people are not required to go through training or be issued a permit to carry a gun, but they do have to possess it legally. The University has a policy about how the weapons have to be carried, but the Board of Regents decided to void the policy in May over concerns that it's too restrictive.
Q: Will concealed carry apply to every room and building on campus?
“I think what we’ll find, hopefully, is that we’re going to be much the same as the rest of the Kansas and Lawrence has been for the past ten years,” Campus Police Chief Chris Keary said.
A: Every building but large athletic facilities will most likely be open to concealed carry. In order to restrict weapons from a building, an institution has to have “adequate security measures” at all public entrances, which includes metal detectors and armed security personnel. A 2014 study of the University’s campus estimated that doing this for all of the University’s facilities would cost upwards of $20 million. In an April meeting of the Board of Regents, the University only requested permission to implement adequate security measures in Allen Fieldhouse and Memorial Stadium. KU Athletics says they plan to pay for those temporary adequate security measures themselves.
Q: What do most people think about the change?
A: In fall of 2015, the Board of Regents conducted a statewide survey of student, faculty and staff. The results showed that campus carry isn’t popular for the majority of those people. In response to whether they want concealed guns on campus, 82 percent of faculty and 70 percent of students said no. As for if they thought campus carry would impact their decision to live or work at the University, 61 percent of faculty responses and 58 percent of student responses said it would.
Q: Is there any chance of it being stopped?
A: It's unlikely at this point. Several bills in the legislature that would have extended the exemption or stopped the law altogether failed to gain any traction during this past session, so the debate has not even reached the floor of the Senate or the House. Some speculate that it may be because of the influence of the National Rifle Association, which has lobbyists in Topeka and donates to many legislators' campaigns.
Kansas Legislature refuses to allow colleges and universities to choose their own campus carry policies, despite the fact that a majority of college employees and students oppose campus carry.
Key dates for concealed carry
April 2013: Bill allowing concealed carry on campus passes legislature and is signed by governor
January-February 2016: Board of Regents releases new weapons policy, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little forms implementation committee
November-December 2016: Board of Regents reviews and approves each university's individual policy on concealed weapons
February 2017: Provost Neeli Bendapudi begins holding information sessions about what concealed carry on campus will look like
April 2017: University requests permission to implement adequate security measures in athletic facilities on campus, but no others
May 2017: Regents vote to change the University's policy on weapons to include more general language on carrying weapons in bags.
July 1, 2017: Concealed carry on campus fully goes into effect