By Ashley Hocking
Kansas legislature passed a policy that will allow citizens to carry concealed firearms on college campuses. The bill was signed by Governor Sam Brownback in March 2015 and will be enacted as law in July 2017.
Kansas is the sixth state to allow concealed carry, according to the Kansas City Star.
According to the legislation, safety protocols and provisions implemented will be funded directed from the University, rather than the state of Kansas.
The legislation will allow individuals over the age of 21 to conceal and carry firearms without a permit, training or a background check.
“I believe that proper training, background checks and licenses are imperative to gun safety,” said Jacob Ellenberger, a member of The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program at KU. “An untrained shooter may end up causing harm even if he or she meant to help. I support guns, but do not support everyone running around with guns.”
According to the New York Times, 42 school shootings have occurred this year alone. Many students wonder how their safety will be ensured on campus after the policy is implemented.
“I will not feel safe with guns on campus,” said McKenzie Ortiz, the student senator of freshman/sophomore liberal arts & sciences. “I think student safety should be the top priority. In order to ensure safety, we need policy to be changed.”
Freshman Scott Gilmore, a fellow member of the ROTC program, believes the number of gun-related accidents will escalate after the policy is implemented.
“The situation of having a gun on campus will be so exotic that hands will drift to the weapons like moths to a flame,” Gilmore said.
As a person of color, Ortiz believes allowing guns on campus will particularly affect people of color in a detrimental way.
“Black people are more likely to be victim of violent crimes, specifically crimes with guns,” Ortiz said. “Minority students often communicate that they feel unsafe on campus, allowing guns will only worsen the situation.”
Gilmore believes being a member of his organization will make him a target to potential shooters on campus.
“As a member of a ROTC, I stick out,” Gilmore said. “If I am in uniform, then a shooter looking for his first random victim will be immediately drawn to me because I stick out like a sore thumb from my peers.”
Ellenberger, on the other hand, will feel safer on campus once the ability to conceal and carry is implemented.
“I know that the likelihood of me being harmed by a firearm is just as high now as it will be when students can concealed carry on campus,” Ellenberger said. “The irrational people who would shoot me probably would have guns anyways.”
While Gilmore fears his involvement with the ROTC program might make him stand out to a shooter, he agrees with the constitutional right to bear arms.
“I believe those of sound mental state and proper training should be allowed to have firearms,” Gilmore said. “I personally do not own a gun, but respect the rights of others to have them because people should have the ability to defend themselves.”
Student Senate created an online survey to gauge students’ opinions and reactions to the policy, Ortiz said. The survey will be available by the end of October.
“Student Senate is also having talks about how things on campus will look after the policy is implemented,” Ortiz said. “These talks include students from every political affiliation and opinion on guns.”
Student Senate hopes to have surveys collected by December, so student senators can propose solutions for campus safety during the Spring.