PITTSBURG — Prof. Don Viney used a clip from the 1953 western “Shane” to convey his argument about guns being more than a tool.
“A shovel can be used as a weapon, but it is not made to be a weapon,” Viney said. “A gun, of course, if specifically designed to be a weapon."
Viney and three other Pittsburg State University professors spoke to over 50 people in Russ Hall on Wednesday about concealed weapons being permitted on campus, a law which takes effect July 1, 2017.
The law allows concealed carry in state universities in Kansas unless there are metal detectors at each entrance.
“Of course this is completely cost prohibitive,” Viney said.
Majority of higher educators are against the law, he said, citing a survey which shows 70 percent of state university employees oppose the law.
The survey was done by the Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University. It could not be obtained before this publication, but according to the Lawrence Journal 70 percent of state university employees surveyed oppose the law, and 55 percent of students.
Although, the number of students and faculty in support was “slightly” higher than other schools, according to Barbara Bonnekessen, chair of history, philosophy and social sciences at PSU.
PSU employee Jarod Stice, who attended the meeting, felt the survey was biased. He said questions were worded in a way to skew answers towards opposing concealed carry on campus.
Later, Dr. Darren Botello-Samson argued that the law was a matter of policy and not a matter of the constitutional right under the second amendment. To solidify his point, Botello-Samson quoted Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in his decision on District of Columbia v. Heller.
The quote said the right secured by the second amendment is not “unlimited” and the ruling should not cast doubt on the prohibition of guns in “sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.”
The real question, he said, is whether or not it is safer to have guns on campus. Based on his findings from a study done by the Center for Disease Control, it is “nine times” safer on a campus in Kansas then the anywhere else in the state from 2012 to 2014.
Dr. Roy Janisch, an assistant professor in criminal justice and former military member, felt untrained students with guns would cause more harm than good. He also felt it would stymie an environment for debate if people were “packing heat.”
Cody Adams, a junior studying psychology, felt the speakers were “one-sided.” Although, Janisch said he was “neutral.”
During a time for questioning, PSU employee Josh Tucker said the opinions were “irrelevant” because this was going to happen. Tucker, who favors the law, wondered if it would be better to train students to properly handle a gun.
Other questions came up about “assault rifles” being allowed in cars, responses to someone unintentionally showing their gun and how the law would be enforced since the person carrying a gun must be at least 21.
Bonnekessen, who facilitated the event, said many questions still needed to be answered. She hoped the university would have more answers in the next few months to come. Bonnekessen hoped the conversation helped people to better form an opinion.
— Michael Stavola is a staff writer at The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MichaelStavola1.