New legislation in Kansas allowing students and staff to carry concealed guns onto campuses has been met with a mostly negative reaction from Kansas’ public universities and Western. Kansas joins the ranks of seven other states that prohibit gun bans on college campuses; Colorado, Idaho, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.
Tim Kissock, Western’s risk manager, tells where Missouri lies on the spectrum of gun bans.
“Right now, we’re statutorily prohibited from it,” says Kissock. “Even if you have a conceal-carry permit, you can’t carry one onto campus under state law… it’s not even up for debate here.”
In most states, legislation preventing gun bans on campuses is meant to address security on campuses in one specific situation.
“The real issue to me, though, isn’t random crimes,” says Kissock. “It’s about what happens if there’s an active shooter on campus.”
Since 2013, there have been 143 document incidents involving guns on school campuses in the United States. However, Kissock expresses doubt that more guns will solve the problem.
“Our concern has always been, with this, if there were an incident on campus, and police had to respond to it, if a lot of people have guns, they might not know who the bad guys are and who the good guys are. It could create a chaotic situation.”
But, as Kissock points out, active-shooter threats aren’t the only threat that guns on campus could lead to.
“And of course accidents; people drop guns, they lose them, we always worry about those things,” says Kissock.
Though the arguments from Western are mostly against a change in the current state laws, Kansas legislatures are divided along party lines.
Democrat Rep. Jim Ward, suggests that the recent law revisions in Kansas should be changed within the next congressional session to protect people on campuses.
“I’ve been on TV the last two years saying guns have no place in schools, churches or courthouses,” Ward said, during an interview with The Wichita Eagle. “I don’t know how you could support [guns on campus] unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last five years.”
Republican Sen. Michael O’Donnell sits on the opposite side of the isle, saying he might consider supporting some changes to the law, but he thinks it’s generally a good idea to allow guns on campus.
“I just know responsible gun owners make the public safer,” O’Donnell said, while speaking with The Wichita Eagle.
Though Missouri remains a state that prohibits guns on college campuses, a lawsuit from a Missouri University professor may call that statute into question.
MU associate law professor Royce de R. Barondes is suing MU over its prohibition of firearms on campus, suggesting that the policy is unconstitutional.
“It’ll be real interesting— watching that— because we have to abide by whatever the state says on that [MU ruling],” says Kissocks. “I don’t think anyone here, in the administration, would be pushing for any change in the state legislation. Certainly nobody here wants that.”