I’m the father of two daughters. One is a Kansas University graduate. Our other daughter is currently enrolled at KU, where three generations of our family have taught or attended.
So, I have to raise my voice in opposition to the 2013 Kansas law that will allow people to carry concealed guns on college campuses in 2017, even without concealed-carry permits. How can that be? The law provides no guarantee that someone, anyone toting a gun on a Kansas college campus would be qualified to possess the firearm or use it safely.
“The right to bear arms has long been among those constitutional rights held most sacred by the citizens of Kansas,” Gov. Sam Brownback said after signing the bill into law in April of 2013.
Right-to-carry or concealed-carry laws have generated much debate in the past two decades. Do they make society safer or more dangerous? Last November, a Stanford University study found that right-to-carry gun laws were connected with an increase in violent crime. The study debunked claims that more guns lead to less crime. Distressingly, the Stanford study found that homicides increased in eight states that adopted right-to-carry laws during 1999-2010.
I suspect many parents and students may share my concern over Kansas’ concealed-carry law. Should the law take effect, parents may decide not to enroll their children in the state’s public colleges. Many Kansas college students, concerned for their own safety, may take similar action. For the same reason, faculty resignations could follow. If this happens, enrollment declines, teacher resignations and associated revenue losses could be significant.
“Our students would rather not have them,” said KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little in a 2013 Lawrence Journal- World story. “There is not a group on campus as a whole that would prefer to have concealed-carry on campus.”
A year earlier, Richard Johnson, chief of University Police at KU Medical Center, said allowing concealed-carry on campuses would increase security risks and complicate the job of law enforcement.
“Police must treat any report of an armed individual on campus with extreme caution and rapid response,” said Johnson in testimony before the Kansas Legislature. “How does the responding officer know which person in the classroom of 300 students is legally in possession of a firearm or is armed with the intention of killing others?”
The concealed-carry law will make matters worse for families, students, teachers and higher education in Kansas. It’s a loss for us all if it happens, and a risk I believe we should avoid. What do you think?