Trustees speak out against Bill 2353
By Rachel Kimbrough
Whether speaking about safety on campus or the economic impact of college sports teams refusing to come to Kansas, Board of Trustee members are not on board with Kansas House Bill 2353.
The bill, if passed, would implement a state-wide mandate allowing conceal-to-carry on the grounds of any public institution. Institutions’ alternative would be to install manned security checkpoints at every entrance.
“The idea behind the legislation is, you’re not going to let me carry my gun into your building, then you need to make sure that nobody else does either,” said Trustee Melody Rayl.
Rayl, a former police officer, testified on behalf of the college against the bill before a House committee. She said the intention of the bill is to promote public safety, but at an institution like the college, it would actually reduce the effectiveness of the college’s existence safety procedures.
“Let’s say for example, right now if you saw somebody walking around campus with a gun, you’d probably report that,” she said. “Well, if everybody is allowed to carry guns on campus, then when would you report it, and if you did report it, when would the police respond, and if they responded, what would they do? It’s easier to identify a threat when no one on campus is supposed to have a gun than it is if you don’t know who’s supposed to have a gun.”
Rayl said the bill may make sense for a college without a readily-available campus security force, which is why the decision to allow guns on campus should be up to individual institutions. Trustee Greg Musil echoed that idea at the Feb. 16 Board of Trustees meeting.
“Regardless of how you feel on the conceal to carry issue, this ought to be a local government control issue,” Musil said. “We are elected to protect this campus. This board, our 25 certified officers, have a great track record. We don’t have a problem with security on this campus.”
College lobbyist Dick Carter said the implications of such a bill passing go beyond public safety.
“Several of the athletic conferences at varying levels in collegiate athletics have issued letters, not only stating their concern, but expressing their desire not to travel to Kansas and play in those arenas or in those venues should concealed weapons be allowed,” Carter said. “Those are very real issues, and that demonstrates an economic impact that would be very negative.”
Carter said the House will work on this bill later this week, and encouraged anyone associated with the college to contact his or her legislator in regards to the bill.