What to know: Concealed guns now legal on Kansas college campuse - KCTV5

What to know: Concealed guns now legal on Kansas college campuses

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On July 1, in the state of Kansas, it became legal to conceal and carry a firearm at public colleges and universities. Students 21 and older can carry a concealed handgun on Kansas university campuses. (AP) On July 1, in the state of Kansas, it became legal to conceal and carry a firearm at public colleges and universities. Students 21 and older can carry a concealed handgun on Kansas university campuses. (AP)
FAIRWAY, KS (KCTV) -

In 2000, no states had laws on their books that allowed guns on college campuses.

Today, 10 states have signed such laws, and an eleventh, Georgia, passed such legislation in March.

On July 1, in the state of Kansas, it became legal to conceal and carry a firearm at public colleges and universities. Students 21 and older can carry a concealed handgun on Kansas university campuses.

The law was originally passed in 2013, but universities had been exempt for four years to prepare.

Students can have guns in their dorms and classrooms. Professors are not allowed to ban guns from the classroom. The new policy is controversial among faculty and students.

Megan Jones is a graduate student at the University of Kansas who plans to leave KU now that conceal and carry is legal on campus. She is also an organizer for the group, "Fail Campus Carry."

“Universities can ban toasters in people's dorm rooms because of the fire risk but they're not going to be allowed to ban a gun,” Jones said. “People are going to die as a result of this law.”

“The policy is insane ... that we're actually having a conversation about this policy. It’s insane,” Kansas State University professor Philip Nel said.

Nel chose to spend the fall semester off campus, focusing on research from his home, where he’ll also be searching for another job.

“The possibility that someone is carrying a gun is the threat as much as someone actually carrying the gun is a threat because it changes the climate,” Nel said. “It changes the way we go about our business.”

Nel said another concern is the fact that in Kansas, a permit and training are not required in order to conceal and carry.

“The assumption is if you have a gun the gun will teach you how to use it carefully. perhaps you can see the flaws in that argument,” Nel said.

Some parents of incoming freshman don’t like the law but can’t afford private or out-of-state tuition.

“It’s not an affordable option ... as a taxpayer, this is where my money is going. This is where we want to send our children, who we’re proud of and love, KU as well, so we’d like to carry on that tradition, but, I’m very uncomfortable with this,” parent  Gretchen Muir said.

A spokesperson for the National Rifle Association told KCTV5 News that guns on campus make campuses safer.

“This is an opportunity for law abiding students and Kansas colleges and universities to be able to protect and defend themselves,” said Catherine Mortensen, a spokeswoman for the NRA. “Nine states now have some form of campus carry. The state that has had it the longest is Utah. They’ve had campus carry now for 10 years, so there’s a good track record to look at the crime rate and to look at what has actually happened on those campuses." 

The University of Utah issued the following statement:

"Forcible rapes have gone down, murder rates have gone down, aggravated assaults have gone down. So, across the board, crime has been reduced on the campuses in Utah and they’ve had campus carry now for 10 years. As a university we would point to a number of factors that go into creating a safe campus. Police outreach, staff and student training programs, and improved lighting and campus safety infrastructure are just a few factors. From our perspective, it would be inaccurate to say Utah gun laws made a singular difference.”

Most universities allowing conceal and carry on campus have not had issues with concealed firearms. In September 2014, a professor at Idaho State University accidentally shot himself in the foot during class. The gun was not in a holster, and it went off while it was in the professor’s pocket.

Recent Kansas State University graduate Derek Cox testified before the state legislature in support of conceal and carry on campus. As a student, Cox wrote a guest commentary in the Kansas City Star explaining his reasoning.

“I think I’m giving the students who don't feel comfortable speaking out a voice. I think they are the silent majority,” Cox said.

Cox went on to say, “We always talk about if we could take all of the guns away and save one life that would be worth it. Well, what if we introduced guns and we could save one life or more than one life, would that not be worth it? I think the argument goes both ways.”

A study published by the National Institute for Justice argues, guns may deter crime. The authors survey felons who were incarcerated in prisons across the country.  The majority of those felons agreed with the statement, "A criminal is not going to mess with a victim he knows is armed with a gun."

An FBI study looked at active shooter incidents from 2000-2013. The study reports, out of 160 shootings, one was stopped by a witness who was not a member of law enforcement but was armed with a gun.

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