LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas’ Department of Public Safety seized a loaded, stolen handgun after a student found it late Tuesday morning on the fourth floor of Wescoe Hall, a classroom and office building on campus, authorities said.
The student reported to a graduate teaching assistant just after 11 a.m. that he’d found the gun, a .38 Special revolver, on a toilet in a men’s restroom, said James Anguiano, deputy chief of the KU’s Department of Public Safety.
The department seized the gun, checked its serial number and determined it had been reported stolen out of Olathe, Anguiano said.
The department then contacted the Olathe Police Department, which joined the investigation, he said.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the gun was left in the bathroom accidentally or intentionally on purpose.
University of Kansas student body vice president Mattie Carter tweeted Tuesday: “Can’t imagine how it must have felt to find this weapon. Disappointed to see this policy violation. If you see a weapon, please call 911.”
The gun was found at a time when a new state law allowing the concealed carry of firearms on campus has been in effect slightly more than two months.
Anguiano said the KU public safety department’s standard practice is to look on a case-by-case basis at whether someone who’s left a gun on campus committed a crime.
In most cases, they probably haven’t, he said, because a Kansas law that took effect in July allows the concealed carry of firearms at public colleges and universities by anyone who is lawfully eligible to do so. Kevin Willmott, professor in the Department of Film and Media Studies at KU, wore a bulletproof vest to his first class last month to protest the law.
In Tuesday’s case, the person possessing the gun apparently committed a crime because it was stolen, Anguiano said.
He said anyone who leaves a gun unattended on campus also could face disciplinary action from the university.
KU put a weapons policy in effect beginning July 1, 2017, requiring students to care, store and use their handguns in a safe manner and in accordance with the law when they have them on campus. The university is in the process of offering several informational sessions, with the last to take place Friday, to educate students about the new law and situations they might encounter as a result.