Reasonable, or retaliatory?

By The Mercury

Perhaps state Rep. Stephanie Clayton, an Overland Park Republican, is wrong about a new bill in the Kansas Legislature to bolster one of the nation’s strongest concealed carry laws.

Perhaps the bill, which would nullify university or college policies regarding concealed carry on their campuses and strip the Kansas Board of Regents and colleges and universities of the authority to draft such policies isn’t retaliation for efforts by those institutions to keep concealed weapons off campuses.

Rep. Clayton, who introduced a measure this session that would repeal campus carry, can’t find another reason. “I think that those institutions are being retaliated against,” she said, “and I just can’t stand for it.”

But Rep. Blake Carpenter, a Derby Republican who introduced the bill, denies that, and said he is willing to work with gun advocates and schools to find “reasonable” solutions.

Reasonableness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Travis Couture-Lovelady, a former Republican lawmaker from Palco who in 2015 cut short his brief legislative tenure to become a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, told members of the House Federal and State Affairs Committee on Thursday that he thinks university gun policies are excessively complex and restrictive.

“I believe 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.”

That perspective is not a surprise, given that Mr. Couture-Lovelady was one of the lead proponents of the “Constitutional Carry” law, which killed the requirement that Kansans undergo training and acquire a permit to carry concealed weapons. He seems more interested in arming people than in ensuring that individuals who carry concealed handguns even know how to use them responsibly.

In our view, giving the Board of Regents and universities some flexibility with the law is eminently reasonable. After all, students, faculty and administrators overwhelmingly think the presence of guns will make campuses more dangerous instead of more safe, and they know vastly more about the college environment than most legislators do. And given the number of college students’ parents who also have qualms about allowing guns on campuses, the Kansas Statehouse is one of the few places where support for forcing universities to allow unrestricted concealed carry on campus is so popular.

Resistance in academia to concealed guns on campus isn’t the problem. The problem is lawmakers’ insistence that they know best how to ensure safety at Kansas colleges and universities.

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