PITTSBURG — It will be legal for students and faculty to concealed carry at Pittsburg State University in compliance with state law on July 1.
The 2013 Kansas Legislature passed Senate Substitute for House Bill 2052, signed in April of that year by Governor Sam Brownback, which permits concealed carry on campus.
PSU is among other Kansas universities which will allow concealed carry on campus.
The university’s policy is in accordance with the Kansas Board of Regents and state law and can be found on the university’s website along with answers to frequently asked questions.
“Students need to understand policy and thoroughly understand it,” PSU Student Rights and Responsibilities Director Jason Kegler said. “We do not want students to assume what information is contained in the policy.”
To prepare for concealed carry on campus, the school has held information sessions which answered frequently asked question’s and educated students and faculty on the law.
“We anticipate more concealed carry orientation opportunities if the demand requires it,” PSU Student Life Vice President Dr. Steven Erwin said
PSU Student Government Association also provided sessions, the most recent had a small crowd.
“We hosted sessions where different people came to talk to students about misconceptions about guns, open and concealed carry and what to expect,” SGA President Cassandra Ngo said.
Erwin said the crowd size may not only be caused by scheduling on a Saturday but because Kansans have been talking about the subject for a while and may be a sign of preparedness.
“Kansas talked about it for so long,” he said. “It’s like a gradual amp up to concealed carry.”
Ngo said to help promote awareness about concealed carry, SGA will be creating newsletters.
“One thing the newsletter will help people understand is what concealed carry is and what it is not,” she said. “The other thing is some people might believe it is limiting of their freedom of speech — it might make them not say things — but with concealed carry you shouldn’t know who is carrying and no one is allowed to ask.
“We encourage students to get the most out of their college experience, but still be cautious.”
In order to concealed carry on campus, the person must be at least 21 years of age, lawfully eligible (no convictions) and meet other legal requirements. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, international students and others on nonimmigrant visas will not be allowed to concealed carry on campus, in accordance with federal regulations.
Only handguns are allowed to be carried.
Erwin said the two basic rules on concealed carry is the handgun must be concealed from public view in an appropriate holster and it must be in control of the person at all times.
PSU Director of University Police Mike McCracken said immediate control means the gun can be placed in a bag, but the bag must remain with the individual at all times.
“The bag needs to be with you at all times,” he said. “You can’t get up to go to the restroom and leave your bag behind.”
According to the school’s policy, students may store their gun in a locked approved container in their dorm.
“The policy states handguns must be placed in appropriate gun safes,” Erwin said. “Those are the parameters that must be met when not on a person.”
The policy does not allow storage of handguns in the classrooms, labs or offices, but does allow storage in locked personal vehicles — as long as the firearm is not visible from the outside of the car.
The policy is the same for community members who visit the campus.
“The community has a good culture,” Erwin said. “We don’t anticipate much difference with this implementation than with any other rules and regulations.”
For policy violations students and faculty are to call the university police administrative number and the university police will investigate to see if it was a violation of the policy.
“Now the landscape has changed,” Erwin said. “Was this a concealed carry person who incidentally stretched and someone saw it under the jacket or was he brandishing a weapon with an intent to harm?”
“Bottom line, policy fulfillment means they shouldn’t know who has a gun or not.” he said.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.