Topeka The Kansas Board of Regents’ proposed new weapons policy will give individual universities the freedom to choose which, if any, buildings or events to prohibit guns from.
However, under state law, doing so would require universities to put in place adequate security measures such as metal detectors or guards at those buildings or events, which could be costly.
“They’re going to have to weigh that,” Regents chairman Shane Bangerter said. “There’s limits, obviously.”
The Regents Governance Committee on Wednesday approved draft amendments to the statewide weapons policy and forwarded them to the full board for a final vote, anticipated in January. Amending the policy is needed to account for changes to state law that require universities to allow concealed carry of guns on campus beginning in July 2017.
The policy will require each university to create policies and procedures “for the safe possession and storage of lawfully possessed handguns.”
Bangerter said the Regents want to see those by June, giving universities a full year to prepare for implementing the policies and undertake any training.
The new draft contains some changes to an earlier draft the Journal-World reported on in early November.
The most notable change is that, under the new draft, universities won’t be required to provide secure gun storage for students, such as at the university police station — a service Kansas and Emporia State universities already offer but other state universities do not.
That requirement was removed because some universities were concerned about liability, said Julene Miller, general counsel for the Regents. Instead, the new draft says:
• Individuals who lawfully possess a concealed gun on campus must keep it on their person or in safe storage at a university-provided facility, at their residence or in their vehicle in a secure storage device that conceals the gun from view.
• For dorm or scholarship hall residents who want to store their guns in their rooms, they must provide their own storage devices that conceal the guns from view and meet minimum industry standards. If a dorm or hall had adequate security measures, however, no guns would be allowed inside and the student would have to store the gun elsewhere.
Other points of the draft policy:
• Each university must determine whether guns will be prohibited in specific buildings or areas and, if so, provide adequate security measures and signage — either permanent or temporary — at entrances. Universities must provide the Regents Governance Committee with a list of these buildings, the rationale for banning guns from them and the security measures in place.
• Universities may implement adequate security measures on a “temporary, as-needed basis.” Those must be outlined in the school’s annual security report to the Regents.
• If adequate security measures are used to prohibit guns in stadiums or other large venues requiring tickets for admission, tickets must state that concealed carry will be prohibited at the event.
• Open-carry of guns is still prohibited on campuses, and no one may display a gun other than to transfer it to storage.
Dorms, where students routinely drink illicitly or come home drunk, and buildings housing volatile materials, such as science labs, have been cited as top concerns by KU faculty, staff and students in recent conversations about campus concealed carry. They’re also especially worried about large crowds at sporting events.
While the law leaves little leeway in most areas, Bangerter said, universities will have a lot of control over individual buildings and events as they come up with policies specific to their respective campuses.
“I think they’ll do a good job of figuring that out,” Bangerter said.
Some faculty, staff and students at KU have said they want to fight the law and attempt to get it overturned, and have urged the KU administration to lobby for that.
Bangerter said, given the overwhelming majority by which the law passed, he does not think that will happen.
“We need to be prepared, we need to have our policies in place,” he said. “If there are (changes to state law), of course we can adjust our policy accordingly.”