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Campus gun law triggering debate at KU

Posted: 6:46 PM, Mar 10, 2016
Updated: 2016-03-10 20:07:50-05

In less than 15 months, almost anyone will be allowed to carry a concealed gun on Kansas college campuses, including the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas.

“I really feel like it’s going to impact, just intrinsically, how patients are treated and how patients feel,” said Chris Johnson, a fourth-year medical student.

Johnson and dozens of other students, doctors and faculty members filed into an auditorium Thursday at the School of Nursing to discuss how the university plans on complying with the state law while maintaining security. The discussion triggered passionate debate.

Matt Strang is studying medicine at KU. He spoke in favor of the law that will take effect in July 2017.

“I think the second amendment is just as precious on a college campus as the first amendment or the fourth amendment,” Strang said.

Others disagreed. Many faculty members argued emotional and high-stressed environments, like hospitals, are not appropriate places for guns.

“My concern is if I am in a classroom and I am teaching and we have controversial topics. The environment there is going to be very difficult if I know people have guns in the classroom,” said Mark Chertoff, a professor against the gun law.

State law will only allow colleges and universities to ban guns if they provide metal detectors and security guards. It’s an almost impossible task for the KU Medical Center, whose buildings are interconnected. According to the medical center, it would cost about $4 million to secure the KU Medical Center facility and $33 million to secure the entire KU campus.

“We are going to be down in the weeds,” said Michael Williams, the University of Senate President at KU Lawrence. “We are going to be looking at every floor of every building to see what kinds of things need to secured.”

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Ariel Rothfield can be reached at ariel.rothfield@kshb.com.  

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