In recent years, many students have found themselves falling into a disturbing routine on their first few days of classes. In each classroom they look for the exits. They think of how far away they are from the nearest exit to the building. They wonder if it’s safer to sit near the door, so they could get out quickly in an emergency, or far away, so they wouldn’t be seen from a hallway.
Many students here at the University of Kansas and across the United States have found themselves wondering what they would do if there was an active shooter on campus. Throughout our lifetimes it has become clear that there’s really nowhere we can feel safe. Schools, churches, concerts, Walmarts and most recently, busy highways, have all been sites of mass shootings.
Here in Kansas, students have extra reason to be afraid. In 2017, Kansas joined just 10 states which allow students to carry guns on public university campuses. The Kansas Personal and Family Protection Act went into effect, which allowed concealed carry on campus. While individuals must be 21 to carry a concealed handgun, there is no license that is required to carry.
Parents and HSers should seriously think about attendance at colleges in states that allow open carry/guns on campus/have weak gun laws.— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) September 1, 2019
Vote with your dollars and your decisions. It just might save your life.
Some claim this law would help to prevent deaths in a mass shooting, assuming that a “good guy with a gun” would be able to stop an active shooter. In the August Dayton, Ohio shooting, it only took 32 seconds for a gunman with an assault rifle to kill nine people and injure 27 others, according to Time magazine. Law enforcement responded as quickly as they possibly could, but no reactionary response is enough to prevent death in situations like these.
In the 2018 Parkland school shooting, an armed security guard stood outside of the high school building and waited for law enforcement while a shooter killed 17 people. So, although a trained professional was on campus while the shooting was taking place, that person did nothing to slow or stop the shooter. It’s not enough to hope a good guy will step in and stop a shooter from hurting more people than they likely already have.
This Kansas law only gives students more reason to be afraid while they’re on campus. Students know many of their classmates could have guns hidden in their backpacks or underneath their clothing, and there’s likely nothing anyone could do quickly enough to stop them if they decided to carry out a shooting.
According to the Washington Post, since June 17, 2015, a mass shooting in which four or more people die happens every 47 days on average in the United States. It is no longer a question of if a mass shooting will happen, it’s a question of when and where, assuming laws don’t change.
For years, local and federal legislatures have been hesitant to pass stricter gun laws, but it’s clear the current strategy isn’t working. Mass shootings have only become more common as time has gone on. The Kansas legislature needs to repeal its Personal and Family Protection Act. They need to send a message to students that they care about their safety. Students should know that at the very least, they’re safe on campus.
Brianna Wessling is a junior from Omaha, Nebraska, studying English and journalism.