TOPEKA- The Board of Regents voted Wednesday to take out a provision of the University’s concealed carry policy that would have required gun carriers to keep bags containing their weapons in their possession at all times.
The University’s policy, which will go into effect on July 1 in conjunction with a state law allowing concealed carry on campus, was originally passed last November and December with no amendments. The main function of the policy is to bring rules on college campuses in line with that of the state’s law, which mandates that anyone over 21 years of age be allowed to carry a concealed weapon in any public building without security measures.
At a March hearing in the state legislature, legislators and others expressed concerns that the University’s policy on concealed carry would deter gun owners from bringing their weapons to campus. However, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, who testified at Wednesday’s meeting, disagreed.
“This is not a pretext to prevent gun-carrying, but rather one to ensure safety for our community,” she said during the meeting.
In their final vote, after seeing the amended policy and discussing, the Regents voted 5-3 to change the policy.
The amended policy says that the responsibilities of carrying a gun on campus “shall include the obligation at all times to keep it secure and concealed from view when not in use for purposes provided by law.” Previously, it had included language about keeping the weapon or bag containing the weapon on one’s person.
During the discussion, the Regents discussed the University’s compliance with the law and the need for consistency among all six Kansas universities.
“I think it a very necessary change and I think it brings a lot of consistency to the policies, so that what’s allowed on one campus will be very similar to what’s allowed on another for a person who wishes to carry,” said Regent Shane Bangerter.
Regent Dennis Mullin, who voted against the amended policy, said, since the University’s original policy was compliant with the law, there was no reason to change it.
“Our job as a board is to put guidelines to our universities and the law and to give them the freedom to come up with their plan, rather than putting one unified plan on the board,” Mullin said.
Gray-Little said after the meeting that she still stands by the original policy and is disappointed by the Regents’ decision.
“Obviously, they’re exercising what they see as their right and responsibility to approve or disapprove these policies,” Gray-Little said. “We disagree that what we wrote was inconsistent with state law, we think it’s entirely consistent with state law.”
The law allowed concealed carry on campus and the policy, as amended, will take effect July 1.