Archive for Thursday, September 22, 2016

Faith-based advocacy group mounts statewide campaign against campus carry

No guns signs are posted on a side door of KU's Art and Design Building, as well as other buildings on campus, pictured in May 2015.

No guns signs are posted on a side door of KU's Art and Design Building, as well as other buildings on campus, pictured in May 2015.

September 22, 2016

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A faith-based group is mobilizing in hopes of overturning the Kansas law that will allow campus carry of concealed weapons beginning next summer.

Lawrence-based Kansas Interfaith Action representatives are visiting state universities to increase awareness of the issue, recruit activists and raise money this semester, according to Rabbi Moti Rieber, Kansas Interfaith Action executive director. The group plans to lobby the Legislature to change the law once representatives return to session next semester.

The multifaith issue-advocacy organization’s mission is putting faith into action “by educating, engaging and advocating on behalf of people of faith and the public regarding critical social, economic, and climate justice issues,” according to its website.

“We have taken on the campaign against campus carry,” Rieber said. “There’s been opposition to it around the state, but not really connected and not really organized, so we’re taking on a strategic role.”

Rieber said a recent meeting at Ecumenical Campus Ministries at the University of Kansas drew about 40 people. He said he’s visited Wichita State University and plans a trip to Kansas State University, too.

Campus carry affects university students, faculty and staff but also parents, grandparents and others outside the university communities, Rieber said.

“There’s a lot of people in Kansas who have a stake in this,” he said. “A lot of people feel like it’s a done deal, but that’s not true because the law hasn’t come into effect yet.”

As it stands, the law will go into effect July 1, 2017.

Universities are preparing by drafting policies and procedures to implement the new law on their respective campuses. The Kansas Board of Regents is expected to review and approve policies in October and November.

State university leaders, including KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, have publicly said they personally oppose having guns on their campuses.

However, Gray-Little has called the possibility of the law being changed “unlikely” and stated that university administration does not plan lobbying efforts, though members of the university community may do so as individuals.

Rieber said the issue of campus carry is a fit for faith leaders, many of whom come from “peace traditions.”

“The introduction of weaponry in society is very troubling for people trying to build a better world,” he said. “Pastors are really on the front lines of this, because when somebody gets killed or commits suicide we’re the ones who have to bury the dead, we’re the ones who have to sit with the family.”

In 2013, Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill lawmakers passed that year requiring that concealed carry of handguns be allowed in all publicly owned buildings unless the owners of those buildings provide adequate security — such as metal detectors or guards — to prevent anyone from bringing weapons into them.

K-12 public school buildings were exempted from that law. Cities, counties and public colleges and universities were allowed to exempt themselves for four years, giving them time to plan for security measures and develop new policies. That exemption ends next year.

Kansas Interfaith Action plans an event this weekend in Lawrence.

Concert Against Campus Carry, planned in conjunction with the national Concert Across America to End Gun Violence initiative, is set for 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Liberty Hall. Doors open at 7 p.m.

The concert will feature Victor and Penny ukulele-and-guitar duo; Barclay Martin Ensemble folk, pop and world music; and Minimal Animal local indie rock band.

Tickets are $20, or $10 for students, and can be purchased through the Liberty Hall box office or online at libertyhall.net. Find more information at KansasInterfaithAction.org.

Contact KU and higher ed reporter Sara Shepherd
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Comments

Thomas Bryce Jr. 1 year, 1 month ago

So, a faith based organization, that is against the law allowing persons to carry concealed firearms on college campuses, will lobby a Faith based state legislature, which passed the law in the first place, to repeal the law. This ought to be interesting.

Tyler Cruse 1 year, 1 month ago

As most already know, Texas passed Campus Carry for public colleges recently and the "doomsayers" were out in force along with the liberal city mayors/police chiefs and unions. There were predictions of "blood in the streets" and "shootouts over parking spaces". Now that we have a few months of the law in action there have been no problems, just as the supporters of the law claimed. Same, with "open carry" as being some "threat" to public safety. Where, in fact when you have responsible armed adults we are all measurably safer. I "tune in" to a podcast called Armed Lutheran available on iTunes and Google Play. This podcast is faith based and does a really good job of showing the fallacy of claiming that a Christian does not have a duty to protect themselves and other innocents.
"No Gun Zones" are where all mass public killings take place. In places where the victims can defend themselves the violent criminal is stopped before the body count gets high enough to be called a "mass killing". It is well past time that we look at facts and not be "satisfied" by feel good laws that actually increase death of innocents.

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