Kansas colleges’ faculty members don’t favor new gun policy

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Results of a survey conducted at the six Kansas universities in the Regents system shows that a strong majority of faculty and staff prefers to see the state gun law changed so that handguns are not allowed inside campus buildings.

A hefty 70 percent want to keep guns out of university buildings, and overall, most survey respondents indicated that allowing concealed carry on campus would make them feel less safe, according to survey results released last week.

More than half — 53 percent — would feel less safe if they carried a concealed handgun. On the other hand, an overwhelming 82 percent said they would feel less safe if students were allowed to carry concealed handguns on campus.

In 2012, the Kansas Legislature passed the Personal and Family Protection Act, allowing concealed-carry permit holders to carry their weapons in almost all public buildings.

Public facilities could ban a gun only if adequate security measures, such as metal detectors, were in place to keep all weapons out. But that’s an unaffordable measure for the state’s public university campuses.

Universities were given a temporary exemption from the measure that will keep guns out of campus buildings until July 2017.

Last year Kansas lawmakers passed a follow-up measure allowing anyone who can lawfully own a gun to carry it loaded and hidden without a concealed-carry permit.

The Regents Council of Faculty Senate Presidents, in collaboration with the Regents University Support Staff Council, commissioned the Docking Institute to survey faculty and staff opinions and policy preferences regarding guns on campuses.

The results were based on responses from 10,886 faculty and staff, or 54 percent of the total 20,151 at the universities.

“The survey’s results clearly show that a majority of our employees want to see the law amended so guns are not allowed on campus,” said Lorie Cook-Benjamin, associate professor at Fort Hays State University and chairwoman of the Council of Faculty Senate Presidents.

Respondents were roughly split on whether the universities should spend the millions it would take to implement adequate security measures. More than half — 54 percent — favored expanding security measures, 16 percent were against the idea, and 23 percent said it would depend on the cost. And 7 percent said they did not know.

In November results of a similar student survey indicated and a mixture of feelings among students about guns on campus.

More than half — 55 percent — want to amend the law so that guns are not allowed on campus, while 14 percent want to keep it as is but extend the exemption past 2017 for universities. And 31 percent want to keep the status quo.

Many students made it clear they would feel more safe if only faculty were given authority to carry a concealed weapon rather than allowing fellow students and visitors the same liberty.

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