Shootings raise questions about concealed-carry law in Kansas

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Tuesday ordered flags to be flown at half-staff because of the deadly shootings at Virginia Tech.

“This horrific crime shocks the conscience and raises the question of whether such an event could happen here in Kansas,” Sebelius said.

The governor’s order is in keeping with President Bush’s order that all U.S. flags at federal locations be flown at half-staff through the rest of the week.

“This tragedy reminds us we must be vigilant in our surroundings, whether at school, at work or in our communities,” Sebelius said.

The governor also noted that a special commission was formed earlier this year to study ways to improve safety in public schools.

“I’m making the expertise of this group and our homeland security officials available to our colleges and universities as they work to ensure a safe learning environment for students,” she said.

Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison echoed Sebelius’ comments.

“Our children, faculty and staff deserve a safe learning environment,” he said. “My office will continue to work with the governor, school officials and local law enforcement to determine how to improve violence prevention and the safety of Kansas schools.”

The Virginia Tech incident has led to a new debate in the U.S. about concealed-carry weapons laws.

Guns are not allowed on the Virginia Tech campus. Kansas has a concealed-carry gun law, but that law still forbids carrying concealed weapons in any “community college, college or university facility.”

Jeff Howlett, owner of Kansas Firearms Specialties in Tonganoxie, is an avid proponent of the concealed weapons law. He thinks campuses are “setting themselves up” for similar shooting incidents by not allowing concealed weapons to be carried by law-abiding people on campus. “Cops don’t respond as fast as you can respond yourself,” he said.

Howlett also said it is unfortunate the shooting incident is going to be blamed on guns instead of a person.

“It’s sad to see students had to go through something like that, but it’s also sad that people solve their problems by taking it out on other people like that,” he said.

Kansas University representatives will not be lobbying for any change that would allow concealed weapons on campus, spokesman Todd Cohen said.

“No. We observe the state law,” he said.