A new weapons policy, along with a new Kansas law, will take effect on July 1, 2017. At the end of September, Emporia State’s faculty senate passed a weapons policy allowing concealed carry guns on campus as long as they are concealed in compliance with Kansas law.
While some students and staff were unhappy with the outcome, the school’s administration realized that they needed to be in line with the state’s laws.
“The reality is the law is the law and we have to comply with that,” said Allison Garrett, ESU’s President. “There are of course a wide range of opinions about the law, but many individuals here at Emporia State, as well as other universities throughout the state, are not pleased that is the law and there are certainly some people who hold out hopes that might be changed. That being said, the law is the law and we certainly, as a university, want to do our best to comply.”
The deadline for all universities to submit their policies to the Kansas Board of Regents for the October meeting was Sept. 28. According to Garrett, the gun policy was not welcome because if students know that more and more people are on campus with guns, it could have a “chilling effect” on free discussion and exchange of ideas, if students are worried what someone with a gun might do if they don’t agree with what is being said. However, not allowing guns, according to opponents, is a misguided attempt at creating safety.
“…There is always somebody who will or may not say something because they are afraid of the reaction they might get, that happens now, people are afraid that if ‘I take a position on a particular topic, they are going to come after me’, whoever they are,” said Kevin Johnson, weapon policy task force member and general counsel. “To me, if a person says ‘I don’t want to say anything because someone might have a gun here,’ then they think that person is a criminal and is going to murder them or attack them.”
Kansas has allowed concealed carry since the legislature passed the Personal and Family Protection Act. Since July 2006, more than 100,000 Kansans have applied for concealed carry licenses. The first licenses were issued on January 3, 2007. By July 2017, all six state universities plus dozens of community colleges and technical schools must allow students to carry concealed weapons on campus.