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Kansas Colleges Prepare For Gun-Toting Students

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Kansas Colleges Prepare For Gun-Toting Students

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By Dion Lefler, The Wichita Eagle (TNS)

WICHITA, Kan. –– As Kansas moves toward a time when guns will be as welcome on university campuses as laptops, students are starting to take notice and talk about how they’ll handle that day when it comes.

For many, it’s no big deal. For students who grew up in a largely rural state, surrounded by guns, having the student at the next desk carrying one in pocket or purse doesn’t feel particularly unfamiliar or uncomfortable.

Others are predicting disaster when any student or employee over 21 can carry concealed on campus, without a permit or training in how and when to deploy a deadly weapon.

The Students Advisory Committee, made up of student-body presidents from all state universities, has invited all students in the system to take a survey to gauge attitudes toward guns on campus. Results aren’t expected until sometime next month.

But it has stirred a new interest among students who, until now, have been mostly silent on the subject.

Interviews at the system’s three major campuses – University of Kansas, Kansas State and Wichita State – found a range of opinions.

The biggest pushback against concealed carry so far has been at KU, where vocal student activists have demanded a gun ban on campus as part of a list of demands for more diversity and “safe spaces” for students, especially minorities, to pursue their education.

Students’ thoughts on guns appear to break down into three broad categories:

Hard-liners: The strongest supporters of concealed carry, they say carrying a gun at the university is their inviolable constitutional right. They often channel the National Rifle Association’s assertions that guns on campus will make everyone safer from the kinds of mass shootings seen at colleges in recent years, because there will be more people on hand to shoot back.

That’s a view represented by Austin Gilpin, a Wichita State freshman from Pratt majoring in communications.

“I’m very supportive of the (concealed carry) legislation,” Gilpin said. “I think it’s time the good guys can defend themselves on campus.”

“I’m pro-it,” said Robert Himelrick, a sophomore in mechanical engineering who commutes to Wichita State from Bel Aire. “I don’t like regulations. If somebody wants to do something, they can do it.”

Doomsayers: These students are convinced that guns on campus will lead to more deadly violence and an escalation in danger to everybody. They echo the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence and argue that more weapons on campus won’t have any effect on mass shooters, but could lead to deadly escalations of ordinary college conflicts.

Testifying to that view is Madelyn Johnson, a psychology and Spanish major finishing her degree this year at Kansas State. She said she’ll be gone before concealed carry takes effect, but she worries about her younger sister, Cassie, a sophomore.

A former intern for state Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau of Wichita, Johnson contacted the senator and university administrators about how she can oppose concealed carry on campus.

“I don’t think it’s fixing the problem (of campus shootings), it’s just amplifying it,” she said. “K-State is my home and I don’t want that to be any part of it.”

Leaners: These students can go either way on the issue, but worry that the devil’s in the details. They don’t necessarily oppose concealed carry per se, but often express concern over the lack of a training requirement and worry that the rules on who can carry and where may be too lax.

Kevin Dice, 20, a computer science major at K-State, said he doesn’t have a problem with the concept of concealed carry, but he worries about “people who look at this as an opportunity to carry a gun just for the sake of carrying a gun,” and he thinks training and a permit should be required.

It probably won’t matter much what students think. The decision forcing universities to allow guns on campus was made by the state Legislature in Topeka. The Board of Regents and university administrations are charged with writing policies to accommodate the law.

In 2012, the Kansas Legislature passed the Personal and Family Protection Act, requiring that concealed-carry permit holders be allowed to carry their weapons in almost all public buildings. This year, the Legislature followed up with a bill revoking the permit requirement and allowing anyone who can lawfully own a gun to carry it loaded and hidden without a permit or training.

To ban guns in any particular building, a public agency has to provide “adequate security measures to ensure that no weapons are permitted to be carried into such building.”

Adequate security is defined in the law as “use of electronic equipment and personnel at public entrances, “including, but not limited to, metal detectors, metal detector wands or any other equipment used for similar purposes.”

The Legislature allowed universities to keep banning guns on their campuses until July 1, 2017, to give them time to adjust to the new requirements.

The regents have circulated a draft policy that would ban open carrying of firearms, which the regents are still allowed to do, while allowing concealed carry, which they have no choice but to accept.

The policy will identify campus locations where guns won’t be allowed and the security measures necessary to ban guns while complying with the law.

Among provisions in the draft policy:

  • Each university will have to provide secure storage for guns –– possibly at the university security office –– for when students with guns have to enter a secured area where guns aren’t allowed.
  • Students who live on campus and don’t want to put their guns in the secure storage would have to provide their own means of locking up their weapons in their dorm rooms when they’re not carrying them.
  • Gun carriers wouldn’t be allowed to display their firearms, except while transferring them from storage to concealment on their person, except in those instances when it is necessary for self-defense.
  • Attendees at sporting events, who now go through a relatively light bag search at the entry gate, will probably have to go through a full metal-detector screening in the future to get into the stadium or arena. A ban on guns would have to be noted on the event ticket.

UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS

Gun control is a front-and center issue for the group Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk, campus activists at KU who recently presented a list of demands to the university administration that they say would make campuses safer and more inclusive.

Katherine Rainey, a senior from Shawnee, said the group plans to speak to lawmakers “and letting them know that KU is pretty much in opposition to conceal and carry on campus.” Rainey, who is studying psychology and anthropology, said bringing the demand to the university first was a way to spur university officials to also take up the matter.

Kennedi Grant, a junior from St. Louis who also is involved in the group, said marginalized students feel danger on campus already without concealed weapons and that “adding that to the mix will only cause more chaos.”

Grant, a journalism student, said allowing concealed firearms on campus increases the likelihood of a shooting. “It’s not even a matter of if anymore, it’s become a matter of when,” she said.

Some students unaffiliated with the group also raised concerns about school shootings, but offered a mix of opinions on whether allowing concealed firearms would put KU at greater risk.

Sarah Lewis, a freshman studying applied behavioral science originally from Texas, said allowing concealed weapons on campus “kind of makes me uncomfortable.”

If it is allowed, she said she’d prefer that guns be out in the open where people would know who has them.

“I would definitely at least have it be open carry, but I prefer no guns at all,” she said.

Carlos Montoya, a sophomore from Shawnee, on the other hand, said he thought guns on campus could make the campus safer if a school shooting did occur.

“I guess with school shootings becoming a more prevalent thing in today’s society, it’s good to have that protection on campus,” said Montoya, who is studying biology. “So I don’t have a problem with it.”

However, Montoya said he probably would not choose to carry a gun if doing so becomes allowed on campus.

KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY

K-State students expressed mostly nuanced views centered more on how guns might be used if allowed on campus.

“I appreciate the ability to protect myself,” said Johnny Monroy, an Army veteran and mechanical engineering student. “As long as it’s done responsibly, it’s fine.”

Monica Brich, a freshman from Shawnee majoring in mass communications, said she thinks guns on campus is a bad idea, mostly because too many college students also party and drink.

“It’s easy to make stupid decisions when you’re drunk,” she said.

She said she doesn’t see the necessity for guns, especially in the hands of “people who have no idea what they’re doing.”

“This campus is pretty safe without having concealed carry,” she said.

WICHITA STATE UNIVERSITY

While KU and K-State are in the college towns of Lawrence and Manhattan, Wichita State is in an urban area.

And while KU and K-State students tend to think of the classroom mass-shooting scenario first, some Wichita students raised the issue of personal protection in the context of getting to and from their cars.

Development has reduced the parking on the main Wichita State campus and pushed students to side streets. A student was shot to death this summer in the parking lot of the Fairmount Towers dorm, the first fatal shooting on campus since 1993.

Morgan Anderson, a junior in marketing, said she lives off campus and worries about being victimized by crime.

“We keep a gun in our house and I feel more safe and secure,” she said.

Gilpin said he thinks concealed carry “would be a deterrent,” keeping off-campus criminals from targeting students.

John Bardo, president of the university, said he thinks the crime concerns are overblown and that students don’t have to park on the street if they don’t want to. He said parking is usually available on campus, but students don’t want to pay for the permit.

“That’s a choice, not a mandate,” he said.

He suggested frugal students should use the free parking and shuttles provided.

And while students interviewed at Wichita State seemed to be the most gun-friendly of the three main state universities, there is still substantial opposition to concealed carry.

“I think it’s a horrible idea,” said Kaylee Rasmussen, a freshman studying art education. “I don’t think you should have no training and then just be able to carry a weapon wherever you want to.”

She said even in during a mass-shooting, more guns wouldn’t help. She envisions a situation where “they try to shoot each other and end up shooting the entire class.”

Michelle Duft, a junior who has worked in retail and returned to campus to get a teaching degree, said she’s also worried about crossfire.

Concealed carry “may deter a lone gunman, but it might also be chaos,” she said. “Nobody’s going to know who’s carrying, so how are we going to know who’s going to be shooting at who?”

(Bryan Lowry contributed to this report.) (c)2015 The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.)Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: A committee made up of student body presidents from Kansas state universities has invited all students in the system to weigh in on a survey to gauge attitudes toward guns on campus. Results are expected sometime next month. (Mike Hutmacher/Wichita Eagle/TNS)

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27 Comments

  1. Insinnergy November 29, 2015

    Oh dear.
    This is going to be messy.

    Mental Exercise:
    Student A hears a car backfire… but think’s it’s a gun shot.
    Student A pulls out his concealed handgun and begins looking for the source of the shot.
    Student B also heard the bang, and catches sight of Student A looking into the distance and openly holding a gun.
    Student B shoots student A.
    Students C through F hear the gunshot and see Student B shooting. They pull out their guns and shoot Student B.
    Students G through Z…..
    Get where I’m going with this?

    Why is this a dumb idea?
    Because even well trained people in this situation cannot easily tell who is the bad guy. But everyone can shoot someone they see waving a gun.

    This stupidity is going to end very poorly.

    Reply
    1. TZToronto November 30, 2015

      Fortunately, cars don’t seem to backfire much any more. I get your point, of course, and it’s a good one. Can you imagine the carnage in the Aurora theater shooting if a lot of people had been carrying guns? What do you shoot at in the dark? How many people trying to shoot the original assailant would have been shot by others mistaking the “good guys” for the bad guy? This is just plain stupid.

      1. Insinnergy November 30, 2015

        I need to update my references… 😉

        1. TZToronto November 30, 2015

          You got it exactly right. I don’t want it to happen, but eventually it will. Good guys will shoot good guys by mistake, and the bad guys will kill even more good guys. The only ones who’ll know what they’re doing (evil things) are the bad guys.

    2. FireBaron November 30, 2015

      You mean like that “good Samaritan” in Texas who shot the victim of the crime instead of the perpetrators? Nah. It’ll never happen. I see it going down like this.

      Student A hears a car backfire… but thinks it’s a gun shot.
      Student A pulls out his concealed handgun and starts shooting back.
      Student B gets hit by a round and Student C fires and kills Student A.
      Campus security opens fire and kills or wounds Students B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I and J, even though the D-J are no where near what happened. They just looked suspicious diving for cover.

  2. Otto Greif November 29, 2015

    It’s been tried in other states and worked fine.

    Reply
    1. johninPCFL November 30, 2015

      Sorry, no: “Of the 19 bills (that would allow campus concealed carry), two of them have passed, one in Arkansas and one in Kansas.”
      It’s an experiment that’s just getting started.

      1. FireBaron November 30, 2015

        Don’t try to confuse Otto with facts. It hasn’t worked for the rest of us, either.

      2. Otto Greif November 30, 2015

        You forgot about Utah and Colorado.

        1. johninPCFL November 30, 2015

          Colorado: “Though the law remains unclear, many colleges and universities have banned firearms from dorms, dining halls, and event centers.”
          Utah: ” Therefore, while the Utah State Board of Regents maintains limited authority to regulate firearms”

          Like I said, it’s an experiment that’s just getting started.

  3. Dominick Vila November 30, 2015

    Who needs a Syrian style civil war, or worry about ISIS, when the greedy arms industry, the NRA, and political opportunists are so ready to do everything they can to turn this country into a war zone?

    Reply
  4. Wedge Shot November 30, 2015

    How would the police know who is a bad guy and who is a good guy if everyone has a gun out and is shooting? If I had a gun in that situation I would shoot everyone I see with a gun in their hand assuming that they are the bad guy and I would bet the police would do the same. Of course this would make the situation much worse but isn’t that what the NRA wants: everyone carrying and shooting at everyone else. Arguments over the simplest things will become shooting events and the death count will be worse than anyone can imagine.
    Here in the land of Mickey Mouse (Orlando, Florida) we have guns everywhere and at least a couple of shootings a day. Disney world does not allow guns on their premises and an employee is not even permitted to have one locked in their car.
    I think I will start a business in Kansas selling coffins it will be a booming business. I will put my stores right next to the college campuses so it will be convenient for students.

    Reply
    1. Otto Greif November 30, 2015

      You sound real smart.

      1. Insinnergy November 30, 2015

        Shame about your posts, then.
        You generally come across as a mentally impaired troll.

    2. Alvin Harrison December 28, 2015

      “Coffins are US” comes to mind…You can use it for free!

  5. David November 30, 2015

    Please…can’t we all just be compliant serfs and let the Government protect and take care of us? I can’t believe that people want to be responsible for their own safety.

    Reply
    1. johninPCFL November 30, 2015

      So long as the “concealed carry students” understand that if they shoot a bystander or other good samaritan they’re liable for medical costs and possible criminal trial and sentence, all’s good.
      I mean, when’s the last time a drunken 18 year old behaved irresponsibly?

      1. Alvin Harrison December 28, 2015

        Unless your the bystander or Good Samaritan. I know you are being sarcastic.

  6. abs1 November 30, 2015

    What a primitive and infantile society we live in. It’s like all of America is 5 years old, wants its toys and screams hysterically if anyone tries to set limits for it.

    Reply
    1. Whatmeworry November 30, 2015

      You want to see babies just watch the colored lives matter thugs

      1. abs1 November 30, 2015

        Racist much?

  7. Dakota Erikson November 30, 2015

    I worry about the female students. Women, in general, don’t carry guns yet because of the large population of rapists on college campuses, women should be armed. I worry that the rapists will use their guns to force more women to submit to rape. Why don’t we only allow female students to carry guns?

    Reply
  8. Whatmeworry November 30, 2015

    Just what we need more young punks with guns

    Reply
  9. Whatmeworry November 30, 2015

    They should welcome their ability to enjoy their constitutional rights

    Reply
    1. Kenneth Ketter December 1, 2015

      No way bro! Private citizens should NOT be allowed to possess guns of any kind. Haven’t we had enough school shootings.

  10. Niall Hosking December 2, 2015

    Aside from the ultimate stupidity that is your gun culture, can anyone see the hypocrisy in letting ‘children’ who aren’t even technically allowed to drink alcohol conceal carry deadly weapons with no training or permits? I bet they don’t get to drive without a licence or insurance either. But ‘Murica!

    Reply
  11. Alvin Harrison December 28, 2015

    WHATS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

    Starting Friday the residents of Texas will legally be able to carry handguns strapped to their waists virtually everywhere. Bars, schools, stores…You name it. Is it just me. or does this reversion to a time before Wyatt Earp just seem unwise.

    Although I think we have gun laws in every state that need to be tightened, I have pretty much wanted to have everyone in the country free to make their own choices on the issue…but me thinks this goes too far. As I mentioned above, Wyatt Earp (and most larger cities) forbade the carrying of weapons in the towns he policed way back in the 1800’s. Seemed like a good way to keep gunfights from erupting…

    I must say that seeing strapped citizens as I carried out my daily routine would not make me feel safer. Quite the opposite…I would be wondering constantly which nut job was going to pull his piece and start blasting. As a person of color, I would NEVER carry a gun and give a policeman an opportunity to shoot me and not even have to plant a weapon…or justify why he shot me. Some might say I would be able to protect myself from racist police…right …and become a cop killer in the eyes of his fellow officers.

    This open carry law is ill thought on so many levels. The police in Texas say they will not be routinely checking permits and required licenses. People drive without licenses so I can safely assume people will open carry in Texas without the required “safe guards”. I can bet you that minorities will be profiled and checked religiously.

    I am sorry but, and I am sure die hard supporters of this law in Texas will not care, I will avoid Texas like Ebola. All of their “vacation in Texas” advertising could not convince me to visit West World. It would just freak me out too much to see people walking around everywhere with guns on their hips. I feel sorry for those people who feel like me and live in Texas. They are about to be taken back 150 years in time with no recourse but to leave the state.

    I can only hope this does not cross the borders of Texas to other states. I try not to imagine the entire country walking around with guns on their belts. However we have given up our country to corporations whose sole purpose is the pursuit of profit…gun manufacturers will buy politicians wherever they can to promote laws like these that will increase their sales.

    I wish the best for Texas and their open carry law…I hope they do not live to regret this decision….but I have a feeling they will.

    Reply

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