Soon, 18-year-olds will be able to carry concealed handguns on KU campus; Regents set to adopt new policy this week
For those lucky school employees who get to work the summer season, there are all types of tasks — cleaning classrooms, reordering supplies, preparing budgets and, of course, brushing up on handgun rules and regulations.
At least, that’s the case for university administrators in Kansas this year. State lawmakers approved new concealed carry language that allows people 18 to 20 years old to carry a concealed handgun, if they take some training and receive a state license. Currently, you must be 21 or older to carry a concealed weapon in Kansas.
But the new law — which was vetoed by Gov. Laura Kelly only to have lawmakers override the veto rather easily — takes effect on July 1. Yes, that means it will be legal for some 18-year-olds to carry concealed on the KU campus. The Kansas Board of Regents at its Wednesday meeting will pass the necessary policy making it so.
It is not like the board has much choice in putting the policy on the books. The state law does not give public universities the option of exempting themselves from the law. In other words, public universities aren’t allowed simply to have a policy saying the new state law doesn’t apply to them. If they equip a building with metal detectors and other such security measures, they can prohibit concealed carry. But thus far that has been a rare occurrence, primarily limited to big athletic events.
It’s important to note that public K-12 schools do have the ability to prohibit concealed carry in their school buildings simply by posting a sign at entrances to their buildings. That was the case under the old law and continues to be the case under the new law.
But, again, that’s not the case for places like KU. A new weapons policy is coming, so ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, here’s a look at what the Board of Regents is set to approve.
• The big change is that people 18 to 20 will be able to carry a concealed handgun on campus, whereas today that is illegal. However, those people will have to go through several extra steps that people 21 and older do not have to go through.
The new law requires people 18 to 20 to get a concealed carry license from the state of Kansas. Most people 21 and older can carry concealed in Kansas without a license or any training.
To get a license in Kansas, you currently have to go through an eight-hour weapons safety and training course. You also have to pay more than $130 in fees and go to the county sheriff’s office to put your fingerprints on file. So, a big question is: How many potential KU students will be interested in going through that process?
It is a big question for universities. In the past, KU officials had noted that since the law prohibited concealed carry for people younger than 21, most students who lived in residence halls, for example, wouldn’t be eligible to carry concealed. At one point, KU estimated that only about 400 people living in KU residence halls were 21 or older and thus eligible to carry concealed. But with the new law, that no longer will be the case. Nearly everyone in the residence halls will be eligible to carry concealed, if they decided to go through the licensing process.
• People living in dorms who have a concealed carry license can carry the gun on their person while in the dorms. When they don’t have the gun on them, however, they are required to store it in a “secure storage device that conceals the gun from view.” The board’s policy says the storage device must meet minimum industry standards for safekeeping of a handgun. So, that means you can’t just keep the gun on top of your dresser, but the policy doesn’t provide more specifics on whether it has to be kept in a lockbox or other similar type of device.
• Open carry of a handgun on campuses is prohibited. No one can display a handgun on campus, unless they are doing so as an act of self-defense. In other words, just because you have a license doesn’t mean you can take your gun out and show it to your friend.
• If you are storing your gun in your vehicle on campus, the gun must be placed in a location hidden from view. In other words, the board’s policy doesn’t allow a handgun to be kept in plain sight on a seat or floorboard, for example.
• People who violate the Regents’ weapons policy can be cited for trespassing and ordered to leave the campus immediately. Depending on the situation, other disciplinary action could be taken against a student or employee of the university.
• Each university is allowed to create its own, more specific policies related to how handguns can be carried on campus. The Board of Regents’ governance committee approves those policies. I’ve asked the Regents if KU has submitted any updates to its policy, given the pending state law change. I haven’t yet gotten those details.
However, I’m guessing the policy will remain very similar to what’s on the books currently. That includes a requirement that all guns be in a holster that fully covers the trigger. Semi-automatic handguns must be carried so that a bullet is not in the firing chamber. Revolvers must be carried so the hammer is resting on an empty cylinder. If the handgun has a safety mechanism, it must be turned on.
Gov. Kelly vetoed the legislation allowing for concealed carry by 18-year-olds, in large part, because she said she didn’t like the idea of more guns on college campuses. The idea of guns on college campuses was very controversial when the Kansas law changed in 2017 to allow people 21 and over to begin carrying handguns on campus. However, there haven’t been many incidents or protests reported since that time. We’ll see what comes as part of the latest law change.
I do have one other quick KU concealed carry note to pass along. I had a reader point out an odd help wanted ad for KU recently. It was for a student worker position in KU’s recreation center. One of the listed requirements for the job, which was a front desk type of position, was the successful applicant “must obtain CPR/AED, Concussion and Concealed Carry certification within 6 months of hire date.”
That last part created all types of questions about whether KU was now requiring some nonlaw-enforcement employees to carry a concealed weapon for security reasons. Student employees at that.
The simple answer is no. A KU spokeswoman quickly clarified when I asked about the listing. She said the concealed carry certification was not a requirement. The way it was worded was an error, and officials were in the process of correcting the job listing.
Instead, employees at the recreation center are required to go through training to handle safety situations, such as severe weather, fire hazards and understanding the campus weapons policy. The spokeswoman said the job posting erroneously described the training on the campus weapons policy as “concealed carry certification.”
So, while there are concealed carry changes coming to KU, requiring employees to become concealed carry certified is not one of them.