KU students protest campus carry to protect LGBT, people of color

Students at the University of Kansas are protesting campus carry after hundreds of students and faculty attended a forum last Tuesday to discuss a change in Kansas law that will allow guns on campus.

Universities in Kansas are currently subject to the Personal and Family Protection Act, which permits concealed carry in the state of Kansas. An amendment to the act allotted public colleges with a four-year grace period from the law so university administrations could determine how the law would be implemented on campus by July 1, 2017.

Over 100 students attended Tuesday’s “Guns on Campus” forum to discuss the change and voice their concerns

“The presence of firearms in our classrooms completely changes the nature of our job and what we’re trying to accomplish at a university,” University of Kansas graduate student and Co-President of the Kansas Coalition for a Gun Free Campus Meagen Youngdahl said.

After the forum, the Kansas Coalition for a Gun Free Campus created a petition to protest campus carry to Kansas legislators and Gov. Sam Brownback (R). In the petition, members of the coalition argue that guns on campus pose a serious threat to the LGBT community and people of color.

“Students, faculty, and staff of color will be disproportionately affected and will be especially vulnerable. The LGBT community, people with disabilities, and other underrepresented groups will also be disproportionately affected,” the petition states.

Students in support of the petition are arguing that guns on campus will also increase the number of student and faculty suicide attempts.

“There will be a greater risk of successful suicide attempts, especially in student dormitories and private offices,” the petition confirms.

The petition received 677 signatures over the weekend, including some purporting to be from former professors and students.

“I taught at the University of Kansas for four years. I loved being at KU and was sad to leave and move on to another job. However, once I heard that the concealed carry law had passed, my immediate reaction was relief at having a reason to leave, and fear for my friends and colleagues still there,” former professor Jennifer Colatosti wrote on the petition.

Former student Brad Snelling expressed a similar fear and worries guns on campus will create a hostile learning environment.

“As an alumnus of the University of Kansas, I am horrified that my alma mater might become an armed campus. This is a horrible idea which would destroy what, for many of us, was a special, peaceful place of learning,” Snelling wrote.

Some students, however, showed up to Tuesday’s forum to support guns on campus and defend their Second Amendment rights.

One student challenged his peers to defend their opposition to campus carry.

“By show of hands, how many of you feel safer having the no guns signs on the doors?” the student asked his peers. “How many of you would keep that same sign in your doorway or in your front yard at home?”

A large number of students and faculty members in attendance raised their hands.

“Can you explain why?” he added.

“Because guns kill people!” one student shouted.

“I mean, I’d rather not have guns in my home. I mean, if you look at the data, having a firearm in your home when someone breaks in will actually make you more likely to die in that situation,” another student said.

Under current legislation, public universities may remain gun-free only if they place security systems at each entryway of every building or security guards at all building entrances on campus.

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