Campus reacts to ‘latest’ gun bill

By Loribeth Reynolds

Amaelle Caron/Collegian - Ethan Ball, Albany, Oregon, browses 9mm pistols at a Hutchinson gun shop Jan. 28.
Amaelle Caron/Collegian - Ethan Ball, Albany, Oregon, browses 9mm pistols at a Hutchinson gun shop Jan. 28.

Kansas house bill 2538, introduced at the end of January by Sen. John Rubin, R-Shawnee, could lower the age of legally carrying a concealed handgun to 18.

If passed, this would mean that every college-aged student could potentially be allowed to carry concealed firearms onto Kansas campuses beginning July 1, 2017.

Dr. Carter File, president of Hutchinson Community College, isn’t very optimistic about the bill.

“I don’t think this bill has any traction,” File said. “I haven’t heard anything from our lobbyists yet, telling us to contact our representatives. We would have the same concerns with 18-year-olds carrying guns as we would 21-year-olds carrying guns.”

Brett Bright, vice president of student services, is not a big fan of this bill, either. If it passed, he said, the bill would allow students to keep their firearms in the residence halls.

“If the state mandates that an 18-year-old may legally own and carry a firearm, then they would have the right to keep the firearm on their person and in their residence,” Bright said.

“I would hope for additional legislation to provide further regulations as it relates to college campuses.”

The bill says that an 18-to-20-year-old wanting to carry a gun must first obtain a license.

A concealed weapon’s license, including a background check, costs $132.50 in Kansas.

This doesn’t include the $100 price of eight hours of gun safety training —or a pistol, which starts at about $350. Total: About $580.

Ethan Ball, a student from Albany, Oregon, visited a Hutchinson pawnshop last week and looked at the firearms.

He said he wouldn’t mind the fee for licensing or training, and he plans on carrying a gun if this bill passes.

“I don’t think it is an unreasonable price,” Ball said. “I would be more than happy to pay that amount for the opportunity to protect others. I trust myself with a gun, and I know I would have a solid chance at protecting myself and others from an incident.”

File said in order to ban guns on campus, once the current concealed carry law is implemented, it would require a metal detector and guards at all entrances to each college building.

“We have checked into the cost, and there is not an opportunity to man every entrance into the college, and not just that, it’s logistically impossible,” File said. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to have guns on campus, but our legislature does, and at the end of the day, if that’s what the legislature wants, we will support the law.”

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