State bill proposes right to carry concealed weapons on campus
- Jan. 29, 2012
- 24 Comments
A bill in the Kansas House of Federal and State Affairs Committee would allow concealed carry permit holders to bring firearms onto college and university campuses.
The committee heard testimony Wednesday and Thursday on House Bill 2353, introduced by Rep. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona.
Under the current law, public and private buildings may prohibit entry of permit holders’ firearms with signs posted at every entrance, which the University currently does.
According to the new bill, public places would not be able to prohibit firearms by licensed carriers unless it had “adequate security measures,” including security guards and metal detectors at all public entrances.
The University and Kansas Board of Regents oppose the bill.
“The safety and security of our campus community is a top priority,” Jill Jess University Director for News and Media Relations, said. “However, we at KU agree with the Board of Regents and all university police chiefs in Kansas that concealed carry on campus will not increase security and public safety.”
Since May 2007, 385 deaths occurred by killers with concealed carry permits, according to the Violence Policy Center’s website, which updates the tally monthly.
In 2010, 12,996 homicides occurred by firearms, according to the FBI’s website.
When comparing the two numbers, Dillon Barnes, a senior majoring in psychology from Maple Hill, Kansas thinks there is very little risk of a concealed carry permit holder abusing their firearm.
“There is a bad apple in every group,” Barnes, a concealed carry permit holder, said. “People who want to get a gun illegally will find a way to do so, whether it’s legal to carry a firearm or not.”
Barnes, regularly takes his firearm with him in public, and would take his gun on campus if the bill passed. He believes allowing permit holders to bring their firearms on campus would help improve personal safety.
“People don’t know that they’re already around carriers, Because they are concealed and there hasn’t been any problems with them, people don’t even notice,” Barnes said.
On behalf of all university police chiefs in Kansas, Richard Johnson, Director of Public Safety, wrote a letter to the board of regents, stating their opposition for the bill.
“It is our firm belief that allowing weapons on campus would significantly increase the risk of danger and tragedy, and not make anyone safer. It should not be assumed that the limited training persons licensed to carry a concealed weapon receive, will enable them to react in a safe, reasonable, and legal manner during a volatile situation,” Johnson said in his letter.
Many supporters of the bill believe it is their constitutional right to carry firearms in public under the Second Amendment.
However, Richard Levy, University School of Law Professor of Constitutional Law, does not think current interpretations of the amendment call for concealed carry on campus.
“I don’t think there is a strong argument under the law as it stands that it is required by the state to allow concealed carry in public places under the Second Amendment,” Levy said.
Levy said the original interpretation of the amendment was the right to bear arms for militia purposes, but in 2008 the Supreme Court ruled individuals have the right possess firearms for personal protection under District of Columbia V. Heller.
“The Second Amendment didn’t create conceal and carry,” Levy said. “The Second Amendment doesn’t tells us if you have the right to have the weapon on your person, or which places it is and isn’t okay to have a weapon,”
Levy thinks if the bill passes it would be difficult to have it overturned.
Following the hearings, the committee will decide to favorably recommend the bill to the house or not.
A bill similar to House Bill 2353 passed the House last year, but failed to gain traction in the Senate.
Governor Sam Browback’s office said he has not made a public decision on whether he would sign the bill into law or not if it passed.
Edited by Tanvi Nimkar