Campus carry opponents plan to keep pushing, even with law in effect


For four years, dozens of faculty members, students, Lawrence residents and more fought against the inevitable: that guns would be allowed on the University’s campus. Protests, petitions, lobbying, demonstrations and letters were not enough to stop a 2013 law from going into effect three weeks ago on July 1, 2017. Now, these advocates have to move forward to new fights.

At the University, two groups remained pushing against the implementation of concealed carry on campus by the time it went into effect: Fail Campus Carry and Faculty for a Safer Campus. Members from the two groups, who often mixed together, visited the legislature during the spring semester and staged some protests.

Even though these efforts did not succeed in keeping guns off the University’s campus, said Megan Jones, a member of Fail Campus Carry, there were some victories in the fight against guns and she hopes there will be even more.

“Ultimately, we have been successful,” Jones said. “Guns are not allowed in hospitals now and, if there wasn’t such a big push to keep guns off campus, we probably wouldn’t have been able to keep guns out of hospitals and care homes.”

Professor Ron Barrett-Gonzalez, an active member of Faculty for a Safer Campus and the president of the Kansas chapter of the American Association of University Professors, also said this was a big victory for the anti-gun movement.

“If I’m not mistaken, it’s the first time the NRA has ever been dealt a defeat in a red state legislature in modern times,” Barrett-Gonzalez said via email.

Looking forward, Jones said there are some other fights she would like to spend time on in addition to campus carry, such as keeping guns out of public libraries and reversing a gag law that prohibits public entities from speaking out against legislation.

“Constant pressure is what’s needed. If we just gave up now, I feel like it would all kind of be in vain,” Jones said. “The way that the gun lobby has functioned in Kansas prior to us trying to stop campus carry has essentially been getting everything they’ve wanted without much fuss. I want to give them as much fuss as possible.”

For Barrett-Gonzalez, having more success with fighting campus carry might come in the form of a personnel change in the governor’s office and statehouse. Kansas will get to choose its next governor in 2018, as well as voting on some legislators, and Barrett-Gonzalez thinks concealed carry will be no small issue in those elections.

“Many people thought that [campus carry] was such a crazy idea that it would ‘never happen;’ accordingly, they didn’t do much to resist it,” he said via email. “Because untrained armed individuals with guns are now here, some people far more energized to change the situation not so much by lobbying, but by working to kick out the legislators who made this happen.”

Barrett-Gonzalez said he thinks switches in the governor’s office would fix the issues he sees in the Kansas Board of Regents, and changes in the legislature would make it possible to change the law. In the 2017 session, neither the House of Representatives nor the Senate ever even had a debate on an amendment exempting college campuses.

Though they plan to take different approaches to their fights, both Barrett-Gonzalez and Jones said they are not giving up on getting rid of concealed carry on campus, because it’s something they object to so strongly.

“That mission still hasn’t gone away. Guns still don’t belong on campus,” Jones said. “I’m still going to do everything I can to show that they don’t belong there, and it’s only a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt or injured.”

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