The Fort Hays State University Student Government Association, in partnership with the American Democracy Project, hosted a Gun Policy Town Hall for the community of Hays on Wednesday at Memorial Union. The purpose of the town hall was for students and community members to get questions answered by the panel about the new firearm concealed carry policy for FHSU, which goes into effect on July 1.
Assistant Professor of Political Science Bryan Bennett explained the policy used guidelines the NRA and gun safety courses have outlined.
“We pulled these requirements, in large part, from NRA guidelines and hunter safety guidelines. So it is basic hunter safety about not having a loaded round in the chamber, having proper storage and having the safety on. These are not independent decisions we have made,” Bennett said.
General Counsel Kerry Wasinger opened the town hall meeting by going over the basic main points of the new policy.
“A concealed firearm in Kansas no longer requires a concealed carry permit,” Wasinger said. “There are limitations. You must be 21 years of age, you can not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you can not have a felony. If you can’t legally own a firearm, you can’t conceal and carry.”
Some other main points in the policy include being at least 21 years old, properly storing the firearm, proper concealment, required holsters, and unchambered rounds. Wasinger talked about what a violation of the gun policy would entail.
“For students, faculty and staff, violations of this policy are treated like any other violation of any other policy on campus. Students will go through the Student Code of Conduct, staff are going to go through the employment conduct procedures for violation of this policy just like they would any other violation of policies,” said Wasinger.
One thing that the panel hit on continuously throughout the meeting was limiting disruption of the academic atmosphere and student safety as No. 1 priorities.
After the counsel went over the main points of the new policy, they fielded questions from a crowd of about 40 people, which included mostly students.
A majority of the questions included inquiries on additional safety. University Police Chief Ed Howell informed participants of how the UPD would handle various “what-if” scenarios and explained that UPD is already taking steps to prepare for the policy to go into effect.
“Our officers within UPD train at least two, three times a year on responding to an active shooter event within our academic buildings. That gives my staff continual training on how to react and how to clear buildings when responding to those situations,” Howell said. “We have also put in a request for additional resources.”
Kansas passed legislation in 2013 allowing concealed carry on state university campuses. The six Kansas Board of Regents universities were given the option to exempt out of concealed carry, which they all did. That exemption expires July 1, and the FHSU concealed carry policy is in preparation for that.
The full FHSU concealed carry policy can be found here: gun-policy.