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Expand concealed carry to campuses

Robert D. Auten, a Manhattan resident and KSU employee, is Kansas director of Students for Concealed Carry.

By A Contributor

In 2006, the Kansas Legislature passed the Personal and Family Protection Act. With the first licenses being issued Jan. 3, 2007, more than 40,000 Kansans have chosen the option to carry a concealed handgun as a means of personal self-defense against the threat of great bodily harm or death.

There remain barriers in Kansas to those who carry legally and responsibly, and it is time for the voices of these citizens to be heard in Topeka. Students for Concealed Carry advocates decriminalizing self-defense on campus and allowing concealed handgun license holders to carry concealed handguns on public university and college campuses in the state.

The Kansas Senate is now considering HB 2353 by Rep. Knox, a bill that would expand the rights of individuals who have chosen a concealed handgun as a self-defense option. If passed, it would allow concealed handgun license holders to carry concealed in state or municipal buildings unless such buildings have adequate security measures to ensure that no weapons — carried legally and more important, those carried illegally — are brought inside.

For all Kansans, those who choose to carry and those who do not, this is a momentous step forward in enhancing safety by removing the impotent attorney general “No Firearms” signage that in no way prohibits criminals from carrying illegally and leaves law-abiding citizens defenseless.

There is no such thing as a law-abiding criminal, and it is just as easy for a criminal to carry a backpack full of guns onto campus, a “gun-free zone,” as it is a backpack full of books. Those who are licensed and choose to carry would have the option of carrying into state and municipal buildings. For those who do not carry, deterrence would make criminals think twice because they would not know who is carrying a concealed handgun and who is not.

The passage of this bill would also remove the imaginary boundary around college campuses disarming students, faculty and staff who legally and responsibly carry off campus, allowing them the option of carrying on campus should they choose. HB 2353 wouldn’t change who can carry, just where concealed handgun license holders can carry. What changes when these individuals, legally able to carry almost everywhere else in Kansas, step across that invisible boundary that separates off-campus from campus? Students for Concealed Carry supports allowing license holders the same options to safety and self-defense on campus that they have off-campus.

Campus carry is not an untested idea. Currently, more than 2 percent of America’s college students attend a university that allows campus carry. More than 220 campuses in seven states (Utah, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, Virginia and Mississippi) allow campus carry, and have for years without incident. In fact, the New Mexico State University chief of police has stated, “Allowing people to carry on school grounds generally makes those places safer.”

A researcher at Colorado State University found that crimes against persons on campus dropped by 44 percent after concealed carry was allowed there in 2003. Though we cannot show causation, we can show correlation between the allowance of this option of self-defense on campus and a decrease in relevant crime. We have shown campus carry has done no harm, and it can potentially do a world of good in preventing sexual assault or saving someone’s life. Students for Concealed Carry (http://www.concealedcampus.org) advocates the decriminalization of self-defense via carrying concealed on campus, because we recognize there is a huge, life-changing difference between feeling safe and actually being safe on campus.

The time for Kansans to act is now. Support HB 2353 by participating in the nationwide Empty Holster Protest April 2- April 6 by showing unified support for the decriminalization of concealed carry on public university and college campuses. More important, contact your state senators and urge them to support HB 2353.  









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