Government & Politics

New bill would keep Kansas colleges from regulating guns on campus

A new campus carry law in Kansas takes effect July 1 and will affect universities in the state, including the University of Kansas.
A new campus carry law in Kansas takes effect July 1 and will affect universities in the state, including the University of Kansas.

As efforts in the Kansas Legislature to stop a law allowing concealed handguns on college campuses have stalled, a new bill in front of lawmakers would add another layer to the law.

Under HB 2220, Kansas universities and the state board of regents would not be able to enforce rules or regulations put in place about how people carry or store their concealed handguns on campus.

Rep. Blake Carpenter, a Derby Republican, said he brought the bill forward and cited a concern that universities are preparing to limit gun owners who want to carry a handgun on campus from having “a round in the chamber.”

He said he was also concerned about other limitations and policies that college campuses have approved for when the campus carry law takes effect July 1.

“The bill originated when I found out that the universities and regents, they’re basically passing these policies that affect how an individual will carry their handgun,” Carpenter said. “For me, I carry with a round in the chamber and I always do.”

The law allowing campus carry was passed in 2013, with a four-year exemption for college campuses and public hospitals put in place to allow them time to prepare for the change.

Efforts by some lawmakers and students to extend the ban on guns on campus indefinitely have failed to make progress in Topeka.

But in 2015, lawmakers changed gun laws again to allow people 21 and older to carry a concealed handgun without a permit.

That change has made some lawmakers and members of the public uneasy as the date to allow concealed handguns on college campuses approaches.

And gun rights supporters, including a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, have maintained that the campus carry law should be kept in place.

Rep. Stephanie Clayton, an Overland Park Republican who opposes the new bill and campus carry, said Friday that the “majority of the Legislature supports common sense gun legislation.”

“A bill like that is very reflective of, again, the anti-university, anti-intellectualism that you see from a certain subset of legislators,” Clayton said. “But I would also say that that subset of legislators is not representative of the people of the state and not representative of the Legislature.”

Zoe Newton, chairwoman of the Kansas Board of Regents, testified against the bill last week.

The law would throw out policies already drafted to prepare for campus carry, including one that bans people from carrying a round in a gun’s chamber, according to her written testimony.

“The board’s policies are designed to set reasonable standards that do not infringe on the right to carry concealed, but instead attempt to ensure that the transition to concealed carry on campus will be as seamless as possible,” Newton said in her written testimony.

Certain public buildings, like those on a college campus or a public hospital, can continue to ban guns past July 1 if they make security changes that include armed guards and metal detectors.

While supporters of a repeal of campus carry said the bill’s chances are not yet finished in the Legislature, it would likely have to be amended to another bill in either the House or Senate to get a full vote.

Hunter Woodall: 785-354-1388, @HunterMw

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