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Reminder to Kansas Lawmakers: There’s Still Time to Avoid Forcing Guns into College and University Buildings

May 9, 2017

There are still almost two months before Kansas’ gun-on-campus law is scheduled to take effect, but already, Kansans are starting to see real consequences.

On Friday, the Lawrence Journal-World ran the resignation letter of an award-winning professor at the University of Kansas, who tied the looming prospect of guns in classrooms to his decision to find work in another state.

“Kansas faces a very clear choice,” wrote Jacob S. Dorman, PhD, an associate professor of history and American studies. “Does it want excellent universities, with world class faculty, or does it want to create an exodus of faculty like myself who have options to teach in states that ban weapons in classrooms?”

Kansas legislators still have time before the end of session to side with professors, students and campus administrators on this question. But unless lawmakers act soon, starting July 1 colleges and universities across the state will be forced to allow hidden, loaded handguns inside their buildings, unless they install costly security measures at every building entrance.

Until July 1, colleges – along with hospitals – will remain exempted from the 2013 law that effectively forces officials to allow people to carry hidden, loaded handguns inside public buildings. In an editorial last Tuesday, the Lawrence Journal-World noted there have been repeated calls for an extension of the exemption.

“Colleges [and] hospitals . . . have asked that the exemption be extended, but, so far, their requests have fallen on deaf ears,” the Journal-World wrote.

In its own editorial the next day, the Kansas City Star suggested political calculus – specifically the fear of the National Rifle Association and the Kansas State Rifle Association – may be the reason many lawmakers are reluctant to side with public safety. The Topeka Capital-Journal weighed in with an editorial Thursday, listing several reasons the editorial board backs “any effort” to extend the exemption and allow college buildings and hospitals to continue to prohibit hidden, loaded handguns.

As Professor Dorman wrote, Kansas legislators have an important decision to make in the coming weeks. And like Professor Dorman, professors and students – and college administrators, staff and police departments – are watching closely to see whether their lawmakers will stand up for campus safety. For more information about the law scheduled to take effect, please see this Everytown fact sheet or reach out for more information.

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