Bill would strengthen Kansas campus carry law
By ALLISON KITE
Mar. 09, 2017
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Gun rights advocates in the Kansas Legislature are pushing back against efforts to repeal a law that will allow concealed carry on college campuses starting July 1.
Students and faculty have argued that guns don't belong on college campuses at all, but gun rights groups are advocating for a bill that would go further, stripping the Kansas Board of Regents and colleges and universities of their ability to draft policies on guns and nullifying their current policies.
The bill was heard Thursday by the House Federal and State Affairs Committee, but it's unclear when it might get a vote.
Colleges say they are in the best position to draft policies that comply with the law but pay attention to the nuance of a college campus, but supporters of the bill say those policies are too restrictive. They took issue with university policies like requiring gun owners to carry their gun on their person at all times and requiring them to carry with the chamber empty and the safety on.
"I believe that a lot of these issues on the university-level policies are just trying to make it more confusing and make it more restrictive so that students and faculty will just give up and choose not to carry for risk of violating one of these policies," National Rifle Association lobbyist Travis Couture-Lovelady told the committee.
Republican Rep. Stephanie Clayton introduced a bill repealing the campus carry law that was heard Feb. 1 but hasn't gotten a vote. The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee voted against advancing a similar bill.
Clayton called the bill eliminating schools' ability to draft policies "retaliatory."
"I think that those institutions are being retaliated against, and I just can't stand for it," she said.
Republican Rep. Blake Carpenter, who introduced the bill, said it wasn't retaliatory and that he would be willing to work with gun advocates and schools to find "reasonable" solutions.
Kansas Board of Regents Chairwoman Zoe Newton raised concerns over having a statewide standard that wouldn't account for the nuance of drafting policy on a college campus, which she compared to a small city.
University of Kansas professor Ron Barrett-Gonzalez said prohibiting universities from restricting guns in certain dangerous areas, such as laboratories, could put students in jeopardy. Laboratories would have to be exempted from the law or the university would have to provide armed guards and metal detectors to keep guns out. Newton said providing that protection is cost-prohibitive for universities.