With the recent hype surrounding so-called "open carry" laws, it is easy to overlook some states' proposed changes to laws regarding the concealed carrying of firearms.
As of this writing, the Kansas State Senate is considering a bill to allow anyone over 21 years old with a concealed gun license to bring a weapon to any of the state's public higher education institutions. If the bill passes, Kansas will become the second state in the nation to legally require public colleges and universities to accept concealed weapons on campus. Utah is the first.
A bill introduced in the Michigan Senate last year would remove college campuses from the state's list of "no-carry zones." Texas, Ohio and Missouri are among the other states that have had similar bills in consideration over the last legislative term.
While this does not necessarily indicate a strong trend - after all, many of these bills will not gain final passage - it is worth noting that bills supporting concealed carry on campus have cropped up regularly across the country. They have also gained popular support since the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, in which a student shooter killed 32 unarmed classmates and teachers.
However, a Campus Safety Magazine survey conducted last summer indicates that the majority of campus safety personnel oppose laws allowing concealed firearms on campus. "Of the 58 percent of higher-education respondents to the survey ... 64 percent of that group say they do not support concealed carry for non-law enforcement," the magazine reports. "Even the majority of supporters from colleges (22 percent overall) say they would only sanction concealed carry under certain conditions. Only 14 percent of respondents offered unqualified support." (To read the full report on the survey results, visit http://www.campussafetymagazine.com/News/?NewsID=3279.)
Proponents of concealed carry on campus point to the Virginia Tech massacre and say that it could have been avoided or at least shortened had one of the students or teachers nearby had a weapon with which to defend themselves. Opponents argue that while police are trained in dealing with highly stressful, active shooter situations, the average gun owner is not. In their view, a campus shooting incident may actually be escalated by the well-meaning intervention of an untrained bystander.
Newly passed concealed carry laws could have varying degrees of impact on security operations at colleges and universities, depending on the specific content of the laws. The law being considered by the Kansas State Senate would allow universities to opt out of concealed carry for buildings with "adequate security," such as metal detectors. This could amount to increased spending on security technology in certain high-risk facilities to avoid concealed carry allowances. In other states, new security staff and university employee training may represent the bulk of the impact.
Keep an eye on your state legislature to see if concealed carry on campus laws could impact you.
Marleah Blades is senior editor for the Security Executive Council, a problem-solving research and services organization that involves a wide range of risk management decision makers. For more information about the Council, visit www.securityexecutivecouncil.com/?sourceCode=std.