Seventy percent of faculty and staff at universities in the Kansas Board of Regents system prefer amending state law to prohibit carrying of concealed firearms inside campus buildings and 90 percent favor renewal of a mandate that Kansans packing heat obtain a training permit, a new survey said Wednesday.
“The survey’s results clearly show that a majority of our employees want to see the law amended so guns are not allowed on campus,” said Lorie Cook-Benjamin, president of the Faculty Senate at Fort Hays State University.
The survey by FHSU’s Docking Institute of Public Affairs indicated one-fourth of respondents prefer to stick with current law and allow the university exemption to expire. Seven percent favored lengthening of the exemption and retention of existing law.
The survey involved 10,800 faculty and staff from Dec. 3 to Jan. 4 at the six core universities and the University of Kansas Medical Center, but not Washburn University in Topeka. Faculty at the University of Kansas expressed the most opposition to allowing guns on campus at 82 percent, while support was most keen among faculty at Fort Hays State University and Pittsburg State University.
After KU, 71 percent of faculty and staff at Emporia State University favored overhaul of the state law. KUMC was at 69 percent followed by Wichita State University at 66 percent, Kansas State University at 63 percent, PSU at 61 percent at FHSU at 60 percent.
The state’s current conceal carry statute delays until July 2017 a requirement universities open their buildings to firearms or install metal detectors and security personnel to guarantee no unauthorized weapons were brought into those structures.
Opponents of the law argued the cost of safety protocols would run into the millions of dollars and that additional firearms wouldn’t make classrooms safer. A bipartisan majority in the House and Senate saw the reforms as reinforcing the constitutional right to bear arms.
In April, the 2015 Legislature and Gov. Sam Brownback repealed a mandate that people in possession of concealed firearms in public spaces had to undergo training, pass a background check and pay for a state license. The state retained the permit system for benefit of Kansans who want to take weapons into other states.
“Responsible gun ownership, for protection and sport, is a right inherent in our Constitution,” Brownback said.
Several legislators indicated they would welcome debate in the 2016 session about modifying state law as it applied to higher education campuses, but the governor expressed no interest in revisiting the issue.
Overall, a majority of those participating in the survey endorsed a prohibition on guns in all buildings, sporting events and open areas of campus. Respondents were more likely to favor allowing concealed carry by faculty and staff than by students or visitors.
Other key findings:
•70 percent said widening the right to possess a gun on campus would negatively affect how they taught courses, 57 percent indicated allowing guns on campus would negatively influence their outreach with community members and 47 percent said it could alter their research.
• 54 percent favor their university spending resources to implement “adequate security measures,” 23 percent said their opinion would depend upon the cost and 16 percent opposed expenditure of those resources.
•Half of respondents said they would be less likely to work at a university if concealed carry were allowed, while 42 percent said it didn’t matter and 8 percent said they would be attracted to a university allowing hidden handguns.
• 46 percent said allowing concealed carry on campus would increase crime at the university, but 16 percent felt it would reduce crime.
• 45 percent of the faculty surveyed said they would feel safer with screening stations at university building entrances, 24 percent would feel less secure and 24 percent said it wouldn’t alter their sense of security.