As a public university, Kansas State must adhere to state guidelines. The university allows those who are 21 and older to carry concealed weapons on campus. Guidelines for students who want to carry concealed weapons are located on K-State’s weapons policy website.
If House Bill 2058 passes the Kansas legislature, people aged 18 to 20 would be able to carry concealed weapons with a provisional license. Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed the bill last week.
To overturn the veto, the legislature will need two to three votes from those who previously voted against the bill. That ensures the bill will pass in both chambers, subsequently becoming law without the governor’s signature.
Cindy Bontrager, the vice president for university operations and chief operating officer, said this proposed change would affect K-State’s current policy. Not much would change except for the age difference, Bontrager said.
“We suspect that most of the guidelines and procedures for concealed carry will continue,” Bontrager said. “This statutory change will not affect that. The biggest change is who is allowed to get a provisional license which the statute has created.”
Kansans over 21 years old can carry a concealed weapon without a provisional license. However, if the new bill passes, people between the ages of 18 and 21 must attain a provisional license in order to lawfully carry a concealed firearm.
In 2017, Kansas passed the constitutional carry law that allows people 21 and over to carry a firearm without a license. The change permitted students over 21 to conceal carry on K-State’s campus.
K-State police support services lieutenant Bradli Millington said the university has not had many issues since Kansas passed the constitutional carry law in 2017. There has only been one policy violation in these five years.
Bontrager said she thinks students will continue to take concealed carrying seriously, considering they have in the past.
“I have been on this campus for quite a long time and in my experience with our students is that they are responsible,” Bontrager said. “This is a privilege — just like driving a vehicle — that our legislature is providing to citizens of Kansas. I expect that our students will take this seriously and they will be responsible and be held accountable for their actions.”
However, not everyone agrees students will take this seriously and be responsible with a handgun. John Lynch, president of the K-State Young Democrats and junior in history, said this bill could lead to unsafe practices and fear.
While there has only been one policy violation, Lynch said he knows students who have been threatened by firearms on K-State’s campus. He said a former student got into a heated discussion in class about politics.
“Afterward, the person he was arguing with mentioned that they had a firearm on them as they were leaving the class,” Lynch said.
He said he’s also concerned about how this policy implementation might affect people who already do not feel safe on K-State’s campus, including historically underrepresented groups such as women and people of color.
Joshua Willis, secretary of the K-State College Republicans and junior in political science, thinks differently. He said if someone feels threatened, having a gun is a great equalizer.
Willis also said carrying a gun is a big responsibility and requires training.
“If you buy a car, you want to make sure you are comfortable with it,” Willis said. “If the mirrors are not good or if you can not see out of it very well, you probably are not going to buy that car. It is kind of the same thing with a firearm. Make sure you are comfortable with that gun, that you know everything about how it works and that you can be safe with that gun.”
Beyond just understanding how to handle a firearm properly, Bontrager recommended students understand what they need to do to receive the provisional license. She also recommended students understand the statutory requirements of the university’s policy.
Additionally, Nicholas Lander, associate director for student living, said communication is important for students choosing to live in the residence halls and carry a concealed weapons.
“If you are going to be living with another person, communicate with them so they are aware if you so choose,” Lander said. “It is not something we require, but it is something that we encourage.”
When more information becomes available on how this policy could affect K-State’s campus, Bontrager said to expect a Twitter and K-State Today update.
“We will meet in the first part of May and I expect that there will be communication from campus,” Bontrager said. “We will use Twitter and K-State Today, so expect us to use those communication channels to make sure our students, faculty and staff are aware of those statutory changes.”