Concealed carry on Kansas college campuses sparks heated debate - WSMV News 4

GUNS IN THE HEARTLAND

Concealed carry on Kansas college campuses sparks heated debate

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For the first time, universities in the state of Kansas are preparing to allow students to carry concealed guns on campus. (AP) For the first time, universities in the state of Kansas are preparing to allow students to carry concealed guns on campus. (AP)
LAWRENCE, KS (KCTV) -

For the first time, universities in the state of Kansas are preparing to allow students to carry concealed guns on campus. It's a controversial change that's dividing students and staff.

Whether or not you support the move, an exemption that delayed the carrying of concealed weapons on campuses expires in July 2017, meaning universities will need to enact the change by then or risk violating the law.

The move is sparking passionate debate. Some are hoping the law will change before that ever becomes a reality while other are hoping to carry guns on campus, even in their classrooms.

Michael Hernandez lost a loved one to suicide. He says there's no need for guns on campus.

"This is going to increase the instances of suicide," Hernandez said.

Hernandez is also concerned about heated arguments among roommates.

"You may or may not get along, and you may not get along for the entire year. This will escalate roommate fights. How much would the situation change between individuals if one had access to a gun right there in their room?" Hernandez questioned.

"I refuse to teach in a classroom where guns are allowed," graduate student Megan Jones stated.

Jones teaches English classes. She worries staff with be in danger if concealed carry weapons are allowed.

"One of my main concerns is students who are angry. I think a lot of faculty will leave. I think a lot of students who would otherwise decide to come to KU will choose other institutions out of state," Jones said.

Student Keith Strawder disagrees. Strawder is an advocate for self-defense and weapons training.

"The type of people who carry on a day to day basis are those that actually take the time to train and know their skills and limits," Strawder commented.

Strawder says students have the right to protect themselves in the most effective way possible, especially on campus.

"When things go bad, they happen really fast. When seconds count, cops are minutes away. It's called personal protection for a reason because you have to protect yourself," Strawder said.

Strawder believes responsible gun owners could protect other students during rampages like recent shootings in Oregon and Virginia.

"This isn't just about active shooter scenarios. This is also about students who are on campus late and walking home," Strawder commented.

This divisive issue has those on both sides of the debate hoping for very different outcomes. Students like Strawder hope the exemption expires without any changes, allowing for concealed guns on campus. Others, including Hernandez, want the exemption extended for universities, or would like to see the law repealed.

If universities do not want to allow concealed guns inside a certain building or area, the law requires them to install security screening measures similar to those used at courthouses. That can be costly.

Copyright 2016 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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