KU hosts discussion on concealed carry laws on campus

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LAWRENCE, Kan. -- The University of Kansas hosted a discussion on Tuesday to address the university's concealed carry policy on campus.

The university currently has an exemption to the state's concealed carry laws in place that allows the school to ban firearms in public buildings. The exemption is set to expire in 2017. Tuesday's discussion is in response to feedback from a town hall meeting held at KU over a month ago, where a group called the Invisible Hawks presented the chancellor with a list of demands, including a request that no guns be allowed in classrooms.

Megan Jones is a graduate student and instructor at the university and president of the Kansas Coalition for a Gun Free Campus. Her group is lobbying for the legislature to change Kansas gun laws to prevent concealed carry on university campuses.

Jones thinks allowing firearms on campus will not only make students feel on edge, but will also effect the atmosphere in the classroom.

"I think it's dangerous and I'm scared," Jones said. "We can't have open discussion if we are scared someone might have a gun on them."

KU student Keith Strawder believes allowing concealed weapons on campus would make the school safer.

"This will be predicated on the notion that guns make people violent," Strawder said. "If someone were to come in as an active shooter and they were to come in this door, and no one had any means to defend themselves, they are all just sitting here as victims."

Supporters of both sides spoke at the public discussion. Professor Michael Williams, KU Senate President, believes that both sides have valid arguments, which is why he hosted the gun discussion.

"Some people think more guns make you safe. Others would disagree," Williams said.

Williams has called on the legislature to extend the exemption, keeping the ban in place. His focus is less on an active shooter situation and more on the changing classroom atmosphere, accidental discharges, and most concerning, suicide.

Williams said there is a caveat in the law that public institutions can still ban firearms if they have metal detectors at all entrances. To implement these security measures at the university, Williams added, would cost about $30 million.