University to choose between concealed carry or heightened security measures

Students may be able to carry concealed weapons on campus within four years.

Currently, signs on campus buildings don’t allow anyone to enter with a weapon. However, a Kansas law that passed earlier this year requires the University to make a choice — add security such as security guards or checkpoints to public campus buildings or allow students and faculty to carry concealed weapons.

Kelsey Weaver/KANSAN Will Stewart-Starks (right), Kansas State Chair for Young Americans for Liberty, advocated concealed carry on campus over security guards. Changes to campus security policies must be made in the within the next four years.

Kelsey Weaver/KANSAN
Will Stewart-Starks (right), Kansas State Chair for Young Americans for Liberty, advocated concealed carry on campus over security guards. Changes to campus security policies must be made in the within the next four years.

Yesterday, the Kansas chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) sponsored an “Empty Holster” project on campus to raise awareness about concealed carry and open carry laws in Kansas. At a town hall meeting last night, Kansas Senator Greg Smith, Kansas Libertarian Party State Director Al Terwelp and Mark Rinke of Kansas City Preppers spoke and answered questions about the current laws in Kansas, the status of proposed changes and how they might affect the University.

If the University doesn’t allow students to conceal carry, it must implement security checkpoints on campus, which could cost thousands of dollars.

Will Stewart-Starks, the Kansas State Chair for YAL, used TSA checkpoints as an example of why that option might not be appealing to students. He also explained that there are too many points of entry to campus where people could carry a weapon through.

“They can set up security, but it’s not going to stop firearms from entering the campus,” Stewart-Starks said. “It’s an impossible task.”

To get a concealed carry license in Kansas, a person who is at least 21 years old must submit an application, pay a fee and go through background checks and a certified training program.

The process of getting a license can take from 45 to 60 days. In Lawrence, concealed carry is allowed off campus in public buildings.

Often, constitutional rights are at odds with campus policies, Starks-Stewart said.

“If someone violates a first amendment law on a campus, then you have a first amendment lawsuit on your hands,” Stewart-Starks said. “Why is there a double standard for the second amendment?”

The stigma toward concealed carry is that it increases violence. Smith and Terwelp said there have been no crimes in Kansas involving licensed concealed carry, which may come as a surprise to some.

“We’re dealing with fear — let’s deal with fact,” Smith said. “Fear stops a lot of good legislature.”

The goal of the “Empty Holster” project was to start dialogue about the topic and its solutions.

“We talked to quite a few students and most of them actually support it. I was surprised, actually,” said Kendon Brawner, event coordinator for YAL. “When you think of Lawrence and Douglas County and KU in particular, you tend to think they’re…liberal.”

Stewart-Starks said it’s not a partisan issue on campus.

“It’s trading liberties for security,” he said. “I think some students realize that’s important to them.”

Emma LeGault is a junior from Emporia majoring in journalism. Read more from .

  • Updated Nov. 20, 2013 at 2:14 am
  • Edited by Kayla Overbey
  • Kyle Kutz

    Are people really that upset that they can’t take their gun into english 101? If they truely feel the need to take a gun into class, then they have some serious mental issues and shouldn’t have the permit in the first place. Said person’s security seems to be more important than mine, not equal.

    In light of this,the best option seems to be C. none of the above.

    • PappyYokum

      That is a rather flippant and ignorant question to ask. English 101 being a gun-free zone is not the problem. The problem is students get robbed or assaulted while on campus and are prevented from having the means to protect themselves while there. Desiring not to be a victim while going to or from class is not a sign of mental illness. Believing people who want to provide for their own security – since campus police cannot – are a threat to oneself indicates to me either paranoia or a desire to prey upon others. Paternalistic much?