Kansas campus gun policy to see changes

Signs like these on Kedzie Hall appear on many buildings on K-State's campus, informing people that concealed handguns are not allowed in the building due to the extension that is set to expire July 1, 2017. (George Walker | The Collegian)

(Editor’s note: This article was updated at 11:19 a.m. to clarify that the law has already been passed and the survey being conducted is through the Students’ Advisory Committee)

Kansas universities are currently under an exemption Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law in 2013 preventing the concealed carry of handguns on college campuses. That exemption expires on July 1, 2017, however.

Kansas universities, under the Kansas Board of Regents, are preparing for a law that the state legislature approved in 2012 that will allow people to carry concealed firearms without a permit on campuses.

Under the law, Kansas legislation created a provision that colleges and universities cannot prohibit concealed carry unless a building has “adequate security measures.”

“In 2014, Kansas legislature passed a law that prohibits guns unless a sign that says no open carry is posted on campus or buildings,” Brodie Herrman, senior in political science, director of state relations and member of the Collegian Media Group board of directors, said. “In 2015, you are now allowed to conceal carry without license or prior training. Combined, all of the laws create a messy problem.”

Ronnie Grice, assistant vice president of the K-State Division of Public Safety and director of the K-State Police Department, said there are plans being made in preparation for the law.

“We are looking at creating a storage facility for individuals to store weapons on campus,” Grice said. “We would have to secure some of the buildings like the child care center and the student union. We are also looking at increasing staff, like security staff. We have to respond differently to guns-related calls, so we would need added man power.”

K-State students may have noticed an email in their inbox requesting that they take a survey regarding their opinion of the safety of campus under these gun regulations.

Melissa Hollar, sophomore in business administration, said she is not the biggest fan of the upcoming changes.

“I know that some people feel the need to carry a gun, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else feels safer with that happening,” Hollar said. “I think if K-State allowed concealed carry they should require a permit and register the gun. I think that could be one way to make the students feel a little safer with the upcoming changes.”

The Students’ Advisory Committee is conducting a study of where and how guns can be controlled without violating the law.

“I think the survey will provide data from how the students feel,” Herrman said. “I would bet as a whole, students would not like it, but it’s going to be a mixed bag. Faculty and staff are going to have their own survey. If you listen to what they are saying, they are saying no guns at all.”

According to the Wichita Eagle’s Oct. 5 article, “Kansas regents prepare to open universities to guns under new law,” another important aspect to consider when dealing with the guns on campus legislation revolves around sporting events. Guns are currently banned in state universities’ stadiums and arenas. When this legislation is enacted, it could mean significant changes when entering places like Bill Snyder Family Stadium, the Eagle reported.

“It’s crucial to see what happens because weapons don’t need to be at any sporting events with rivalry, drinking, tailgating,” Grice said. “It would be easier to control in Bramlage Coliseum because there is only x-numbers of doors to allow fans to get in.”

Stadium attendees generally go through a light screening process, with gate checkers primarily looking in purses and bags for banned items. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, K-State would have to make entering the stadium a more deliberate process, funneling fans in through fewer entrances where they can be screened with metal detectors, as the law requires.

“To sum it all up, there are going to be changes made,” Grice said. “We don’t know what kinds yet, but we are making plans to do whatever we have to do for the safety of the students and faculty at K-State.”