Senate committee hears heated testimony over concealed carry

It's a full house for a Senate Committee meeting Thursday about guns on campus.

TOPEKA, Kan (KSNT)  –  Discussion got heated during a Kansas Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee meeting Thursday morning. Lawmakers heard testimony on Senate Bill 53, which would permanently exempt public universities from having to allow guns on campus.

“I am in full support of this bill because I don’t want to get shot,” said Megan Jones, co-president of the Kansas Coalition for a Gun Free Campus.

In 2013, the Kansas Legislature passed a law forcing public buildings to allow concealed carry unless security measures are in place. Public universities have been exempt from the law for four years. Schools need to have metal detectors and security guards in place by July 1 or allow guns to enter.

“If that building can’t disarm those seeking to do harm – then they cannot disarm a law abiding citizen and take away their right to defend themselves,” said Travis Couture-Loveladfy with the National Rifle Association.

Lawmakers heard testimony from people on both sides of the issue. Over an hour of the 90 minutes meeting was spent listening to those against guns on campus.

“I wonder how many of you have hung out will college students recently because we aren’t exactly mature or responsible,” said Regan Tokus, a Kansas State University student.

A K-State student was sent to the hospital Sunday after accidentally shooting himself in his dorm room. Many proponents pointed to the incident as proof of what could happen if guns were allowed on campus; however, one students said its proof that the current system doesn’t work.

“We have an exemption in place now and a 19-year-old still found a way to bring a firearm on campus and injure himself, so the sign doesn’t work. We have no gun signs all over campus and it didn’t stop him from doing what he did,” said Derek Cox, a K-State student and military veteran.

Committee Chariman Sen. Jake LaTurner (R-Pittsburg) said he had hoped to work the bill during their meeting Thursday, but the crowd and limited time made that impossible. He said they would revisit the bill next week, although no official agenda has been set.

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