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A new campus carry law takes effect in Kansas soon, and will affect universities across the state. As colleges, students, and law enforcement prepare for the change, a new law seeks to add even more complication to an already confusing situation.
Under the new law, HB 2220, Kansas universities would be banned from regulating guns on their campuses. It has drawn criticism from many colleges, who claim that they have a right to regulate what type of weapons students can bring to school, and how they carry them.
The bill would specifically limit colleges from passing regulations that limited students rights as to how they carry and store their weapons whilst on campus. It has been proposed by a Republican lawmaker, Blake Carpenter, who worries that universities are already seeking to limit second amendment rights in advance of other legislation coming into effect. He says that colleges want to stop students from having a “round in the chamber”, and that this is unfair.
The campus carry law was passed some time ago now, in 2013. However, that bill contained a four-year exemption for public colleges and hospitals, in order to allow them to prepare for the change to gun restrictions on their premises. It is due to come into effect on July 1 this year.
Republican lawmakers claim that many universities, in advance of the new law coming in, are passing regulations that will mean it is toothless. By limiting how and where students can carry guns, some say, these colleges are taking the law into their own hands.
There have indeed been some efforts to circumvent the campus carry law coming into force. Some campaigners have sought to extend the exemption period indefinitely. These efforts have met with limited success, and so colleges who worry that significant numbers of their students will be armed come July are seeking to limit these rights.
In Kansas, 2015 saw the passing of a law which allows people 21 and over to carry a concealed handgun without a license. Though the age limitation on this statute means that it does not apply to many students, it has made many people nervous about the introduction of the campus carry law.
Some worry that the right to free speech, which is so important in colleges, will be limited by the campus carry law – that students who know or suspect that their peers are armed with concealed weapons will be less likely to speak out about contentious subjects.
Certain public buildings, including some on college campuses and in public hospitals, will continue to be exempt from the campus carry law. They are required to make security upgrades to do so, including installing metal detectors and armed guards to ensure the safety of those inside.
Those who wish to repeal the campus carry law are optimistic about their chances, because they feel that the vast majority of students and college administrators oppose the bill.
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