Gun-rights issue returns
No conceal-and-carry on campus, for now
Marcus Clem | editor in chief
News headlines gave rise once again to a perennial national security issue last week.
At least this time, no one was hurt when a gunman carrying an AK-47 and hundreds of rounds walked into a Georgia elementary school in the afternoon of Tuesday, Aug. 20.
Through the efforts of Antoinette Tuff, a bookkeeper for the school, would-be shooter Michael Brandon Hill was persuaded to surrender to police before he killed anyone.
Aaron Powell says he lauds Tuff’s actions, but his view is unchanged: College students who have gone through the proper training and licensing should be allowed to carry a concealed weapon on campus.
“That woman is a hero, she’s totally brave, deserves a Medal of Honor, but not everyone can do that,” said Powell, junior in vocal education. “In a crisis situation, it’s much easier to eliminate a threat than to talk someone down.”
Kelsey Neiger, a former resident assistant, says that this kind of fear and the argument it’s based on is “just dumb.”
“You don’t need a gun on campus,” said Neiger, senior in elementary education. “I’m all for people having guns, but I don’t see why you need one on campus. I’m a teacher, too, and I think you never need them at schools.”
Ananda Jayawardhana says he can speak for many faculty members in reflecting unease about firearms on campus.
“I am not comfortable having guns in the classroom, or on campus, or at sporting events,” said Jayawardhana, professor of mathematics. “If someone wants to have a gun in their own home for their defense, that is their right and I respect that.
“But, this is an environment where books, calculators and computers belong, not guns.”
The university’s situation
The issue is a subject of intense debate, but has been settled for now at Pittsburg State.
Last year, the Kansas State Assembly amended the Personal and Family Protection Act, the law that governs conceal-and-carry privileges in the state.
Many public buildings, including college campuses, the state capitol and some K-12 school districts are now no longer able to permanently ban conceal-and carry license holders from carrying a gun on their premises.
However, the Kansas Board of Regents applied for and received an exemption from the act for a period of four years while its six institutions, including Pitt State, adapt to the changes.
As a result of the exemption, the conceal-and-carry situation on campus remains virtually unchanged from last year.
Still a potential crime
Any holder of a state conceal-and-carry permit who is discovered on campus with a weapon will be considered in violation of campus policy.
If they are students or employees, they may be subject to disciplinary action, says Steve Erwin, co-emergency manager for the university and associate vice president for campus life and auxiliary services.
Depending on the precise circumstances of the case, criminal prosecution may result, says Capt. Mike McCracken, co-emergency manager for the university and director of university police and parking services.
“If they have a concealed weapon on them now, on campus, they are subject to the current statute,” McCracken said. “That would be a misdemeanor. They could be arrested for that.”
However, Erwin says, the university does intend to comply with the law as it is currently written, and that will mean that four years from now, guns will be allowed on campus.