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Kansas Legislators Introduce Bills to Keep Guns Off Campus

Thanks to legislation introduced this week in Topeka, Kansas lawmakers now have an opportunity to prevent forced campus carry from taking effect this summer — a development that would come as an enormous relief to the campus communities concerned about the prospect of hidden, loaded handguns in their dorms and classrooms.

Beginning in July, colleges and universities across the state will be forced to allow concealed handguns in their buildings. And, because Kansas already allows concealed carry without a permit, that could mean dangerous individuals, and people with no firearms safety training, could soon be carrying hidden, loaded handguns inside campus buildings.

Schools can avoid forced campus carry by installing security measures at every building entrance. But one small community college has reportedly put the cost of these measures at around $20 million for its campus, a price tag that would likely be far higher on larger campuses. Given the state’s budget crisis, installing these security measures at every entrance of every building hardly seems like a reasonable alternative to allowing guns inside.

On campuses, the idea of hidden, loaded handguns inside buildings has troubled many students and faculty. A survey of Kansas Board of Regents employees found more than four in five said they would feel less safe if students were permitted to carry guns to class. Some students are also thinking about transferring schools if the policy takes effect, with one saying late last year: “I’ve actually been looking at different schools and I know a lot of students have been.”

The legislation introduced this week in Topeka would directly address those concerns, giving colleges and universities a permanent exemption from the law that would otherwise force them to allow guns inside campus buildings. The legislation would also exempt other locations, including community mental health centers.

As lawmakers consider this new legislation, I urge you to continue reporting on what forced campus carry would mean for Kansas colleges and universities. If you have any questions on the gun lobby’s efforts to arm campuses across the country, and the reasons students and faculty are so concerned by the prospect of hidden, loaded handguns on campus, please don’t hesitate to reach out.