TOPEKA, Kan. -- A bill that would exempt Kansas colleges from a mandate that they allow concealed carry of handguns is stuck in committee after failing to win approval Tuesday.
In an unrecorded voice vote, the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee opted not to advance the bill that would exempt Kansas colleges from allowing handguns. The bill came from Wichita Democratic Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau. The bill provides a permanent exemption for public colleges and several types of medical facilities from a 2013 law that requires public buildings to either allow concealed weapons or provide security measures, like guards and metal detectors. Campuses had until July 1, 2017, to comply.
In response to the failed bill, local constituents gathered on Wednesday in Topeka to urge the House to support HB 2074 to stop concealed campus carry. Others showed up at the Kansas House Federal and State Affairs Committee hearing to give testimony against the bill.
"The KSRA opposes this serious attack on our right to defend ourselves and asking anyone who enters a college campus to surrender that right to unknown security personnel," said Kathleen Wade, Kansas State Rifle Association president.
“Before school even starts, freshmen come to Kansas college campuses for sorority and fraternity rush and band camp. One week later, thousands of our best and brightest move into dorms and living communities. We know that these kids, fresh out of high school, are thrown into a unique time of accelerated decision making mixed with alcohol, drugs and stress. It is my hope as a mom of a KSU freshman that we do not add guns to the mix. The most absurd thing about campus carry to me is that dorm rules prevent you from having a candle in your room. But you can have a gun after July 1.” LeAnne Stowe, Overland Park mother.
Two Johnson county high school seniors testified in support of being able to carry concealed weapons.
They say they're choosing colleges based on whether they can exercise their right to be able to defend themselves.
"I’ve spoke to a lot of people that I go to school with, and that I will go to school with next year at the University of Kansas," said Andrew Lee, a student at St. James Academy. "They have based their decision to go that university specifically because of the conceal carry laws."
"I would definitely feel more safe having the option to conceal and carry," said high school senior Olivia Rodgers. Some high schoolers are saying the ability to carry a concealed weapon on campus would be a factor in choosing a college. "As a young lady going off to college, personal safety is definitely on the forefront of my mind. So having the right to decide how to protect myself is an important factor in my college decision."
The University of Kansas is likely to use security measures such as metal detectors at Allen Fieldhouse and Memorial Stadium beginning in the fall. The change comes as a law that requires Kansas universities to allow concealed handguns on campuses begins July 1. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the details aren't final but the university expects to use the measures at games where attendance is expected to top 5,000.
Faust-Goudeau says she might introduce legislation that would require gun owners to get a license and training before carrying a concealed weapon.