Debate expected on state campus right-to-carry legislation
Topeka — The chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents says he expects a full-throttle debate during the next legislative session over whether to allow concealed guns on campuses of state universities.
"Definitely it will be back," said Tim Emert of Independence.
Noting the recent mass shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut, Emert said, "There is a lot of support, because of recent incidents, for stricter gun control, but then by the same token, there is growth among folks who believe that everybody should be armed."
He said the nine-member regents will continue to oppose concealed carry on campuses. "It's going to be real interesting with all those new legislators," he said. When the 2013 session starts Jan. 14, there will be 50 members in the 125-member House who have never served there before.
State Sen.-elect Forrest Knox, R-Altoona, has said he will push for a bill that would allow concealed-carry permit holders to take their weapons into public buildings. Knox, who was a House member in the 2012 session, got a similar bill passed in the House last session, but it included a provision that would have allowed universities and hospitals to exempt themselves. He said he would re-introduce his bill in the Senate in the same form it was when it left the House. But it could always been amended again.
Knox has argued that preventing law-abiding concealed-carry permit-holders from bringing their weapons into public buildings is an invitation to criminals. In an email from last month, Knox said, "We can trust the average Kansan to carry a deadly weapon. It is not the weapon that is evil, it is criminals that misuse the weapon."
Knox has not responded to a recent email seeking comment following last week's deadly rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman killed 20 students and six staff members.
Higher education officials have said increasing the number of guns on campuses would produce greater risk and confusion in the event of an emergency situation.