Guns don’t belong on campus, say faculty members at Kansas universities

For now, guns are prohibited on Kansas university campuses. That is set to change July 1.
For now, guns are prohibited on Kansas university campuses. That is set to change July 1. File photo by The Star

Faculty at all six Kansas Board of Regents universities oppose the concealed carry of firearms on campus and approved resolutions basically saying: Handguns have no place on college campuses.

A statement released Tuesday by Kansas faculty leaders said the campuses agree in their opposition of legislation that, starting July 1, would allow qualifying students, faculty, administrators and visitors to carry a concealed handgun into campus buildings.

“All six faculties are speaking with a single voice,” said Pam Keller, Faculty Senate president at the University of Kansas. “The vast majority of faculty, as well as students and staff, believe ‘campus carry’ is a bad idea. It won’t make our campuses better or safer.”

In 2013, Kansas state law made it legal to carry a concealed weapon into public buildings, including the more than 800 buildings on the six public campuses governed by the Kansas Board of Regents. But universities were given an exemption that expires this summer.

The Federal and State Affairs Committee of the Kansas House recently considered a bill to make the university exemption permanent. The bill was defeated in that committee.

Now, according to state law, the only way to prevent anyone from having a concealed weapon in a university building would be to install security measures and security staff at building entrances, which university leaders have said would cost too much.

A survey taken in January 2016 on all six campuses showed 77 percent of students, staff and faculty favored a repeal of the law or an extension of the exemption.

“We are unaware of any compelling arguments in favor of concealed carry on campus,” said Carl Miller, Faculty Senate president at Fort Hays State University.

He cited a 2016 Johns Hopkins report that found that concealed carry on campus could reduce the safety of students, faculty and staff.

“So in the absence of any good arguments for requiring schools to allow concealed carry, we think that the leadership of each university should be permitted to determine the wisest policy regarding firearms on their campuses.”

Mará Rose Williams: 816-234-4419, @marawilliamskc