April 16, 2007, when I was a faculty member at Virginia Tech, the worst campus shooting in the U.S. occurred. The most difficult experience of my life was attending funerals for VT students killed in the massacre. Seeing friends and family of students at these services dressed in maroon and orange broke my heart.
Saturday, I joined other K-State faculty at the Open House talking to attendees about new laws allowing concealed carry on Kansas campuses in July 2017. The conversations were courteous and open. When a few people said they supported the idea of allowing concealed weapons on campus without any training because they thought campus would be safer if everyone had handguns, I was respectful, but in my heart, I wanted to let them know how strongly I believe that more guns on campus will not make the campus safer.
My area of research is domestic violence. Lethal violence is much more likely to occur during a relationship conflict when a gun is easily accessible. I am also a family therapy professor. When a person makes a suicide attempt, it is much more likely to be lethal if a handgun is available. Many people die in the U.S. each year because of accidental discharge of weapons. I do not want to hear about a gun-related suicide, homicide or an accidental shooting on campus after the new laws go into effect while I remain silent.
The issue of allowing concealed carry on campus is deeply personal to me. I can’t bear the thought of experiencing K-State funerals with family members and friends dressed in Wildcat purple as a result of more guns on campus. Please contact your legislators and encourage them to change the law and allow universities to decide the best ways to keep their campuses safe.
Sandra M. Stith, Ph.D.
University Distinguished Professor
Family Studies and Human Services
Kansas State University