Campus conceal-carry repeal proposed in Kansas to frustration of gun rights supporters

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Allowing concealed guns on college campuses remains a controversial issue in the Sunflower State.

Now, a Lawrence-based lawmaker wants to reverse course on "campus carry," and it isn't the first time Democratic Rep. Barbara Ballard has introduced the measure.

"Faculty is uncomfortable. They don't feel safe. They don't want to carry guns," Ballard told FOX4 on Wednesday. "Parents are upset. They don't want students coming to campus that will allow guns. They sometimes decide, 'I'll choose another college.'"

College campuses are an environment considered to be a soft target by many Second Amendment supporters. That's why many Kansans oppose the repeal of campus carry -- including Garrett Miller, chairman of KU's College Republicans.

He cited the latest statistics from the University of Kansas Public Safety department, which show crime rates at the Lawrence campus are down.

"It's constitutionally protected. The Second Amendment is pretty clear. Citizens have the right to bear arms," Miller said. "I don't want KU to be a soft target. I want this to be a very hard target."

Miller was thrilled when, in 2017, conceal-carry became legal on public college campuses in Kansas. Miller said he believes more licensed gun owners on campus will continue to promote safety for all.

"Most of the people I know here at KU -- some of them aren't even Republicans -- they feel the campus climate is more safe having that. If someone was going to commit a crime, there could be someone potentially carrying a firearm that could prevent whatever crime they're wanting to commit to occur," Miller said.

Ballard disagrees. On Wednesday, she said she's introduced this idea at the statehouse on five other occasions.

Many KU students said they didn't know what to think.

"I know a lot of students are like me right in the middle who are indifferent about it and don't care too much. We'd still like to see law and order, and safety is a number one priority and concern," said Nate Gendler, a KU student from Omaha.

"I think that having students on campus, at least as someone who has friends who are TAs, who teach classes, I think it's scary to have potential students and knowing they potentially have guns on them in class," said Chaney Jewell, a KU student from St. Louis.

Ballard pointed out this amendment would only affect public colleges and universities in Kansas -- not the private schools. But Miller said he believes potential troublemakers know students here may be licensed to carry, and other schools should follow this example.

KU's policy requires that handguns remain concealed while on campus. A statement from the university encourages use of the "see something-say something" practice when it comes to potential gun-related trouble.

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