Kansas colleges and universities could keep concealed handguns off their campuses under a bill introduced Tuesday by a Johnson County legislator.
Rep. Stephanie Clayton, an Overland Park Republican, introduced legislation that would permanently exempt state colleges and universities from being forced to allow concealed handguns.
As it stands under Kansas law, college campuses like the University of Kansas, Kansas State University and Johnson County Community College are required to start allowing concealed campus carry in July.
“I’ve heard from many legislators who are happy that it has been introduced,” Clayton said. “This might even be from legislators who oppose it, who want it to have that public hearing and want it to have its sort of day in court.”
Though the law allowing the handguns on college campuses was passed in 2013, the schools were given roughly four years to prepare for the change to take effect.
Rep. John Whitmer, a Wichita Republican who serves with Clayton on the committee where the bill was introduced, said he thought the legislation was “dead on arrival.”
“I don’t think they have the votes to get it out of committee,” he said.
But Clayton said the issue needs to be revisited.
After the campus carry bill was passed in 2013, lawmakers changed gun laws again during the 2015 session.
They passed a bill that year that allowed people in the state to carry concealed firearms without a license.
“We now have a changed situation where who is carrying a concealed weapon is different,” Clayton said. “It used to just be some people who are licensed. Now it’s everyone. That’s the reason I think this deserves that second hearing, that second opportunity for legislators to consider this. The debate needs to be had again.”
Blake Flanders, the president and CEO of the Kansas Board of Regents, said there’s been opposition to the law from faculty members. The regents oversee six state universities as well as 19 community colleges.
The Students’ Advisory Committee to the Board of Regents said they plan to ask lawmakers to change the law and allow universities to pick areas where concealed carry of handguns would be allowed, according to a statement the group issued Tuesday.
Gov. Sam Brownback, who signed the campus carry bill into law earlier in his administration, said Tuesday that he’s still a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights.
But when asked about a possible compromise on the campus carry law, he said he was open to seeing what the Legislature does this session.
“We’ll look at whatever people bring forward in the process,” Brownback said. “You know I like to let the process play out. But my view of the Second Amendment hasn’t changed.”