The heated battle over exempting concealed carry on campuses shifts to the House

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A Senate bill stalled in committee, but the push continued Wednesday to gain support for a House measure allowing state colleges and universities to continue keeping concealed guns off their campuses.

The hearing was just like the one last week - standing room only, and several wanted their options heard.

“I do not want to be on campus with firearms permitted,” Megan Jones, a University of Kansas Graduate student said. "Someone is going to die if this does not pass."

According to the National Rifle Association lobbyist, Travis Couture-Lovelady, “we believe that if the universities, or any other public entity, believes that guns should not be in a certain area, they believe that is not the environment for it, all they have to do is put up the adequate security measures to make sure.”

The current conceal carry bill, passed in 2013, has an exemption for colleges and universities that will sunset on July 1st.

Margaret Kramar, University of Kansas English professor, pleaded “please do not add a gun to the powder keg of alcohol, drugs, breaking up with a boyfriend, or failing the bar exam.”

“I believe this bill would take away the law abiding citizens, the off duty law enforcement that come there to learn, as well as the prior and currently serving military members right to defend themselves,” said Hunter Anderson, a Washburn University student.

Aside from safety concerns, one of the arguments for many institutions, is cost.

Republican Representative Melissa Rooker wants to see the numbers, “this has been a choice not to provide the adequate security, or whether it has been forced upon them because of their fiscal situation.”

But, Couture-Lovelady contends, “They have had 4 years to plan for this and still don’t think that it’s effective to do so than just opening it up.”

Now it’s up to lawmakers to decide if it should make it to the full house for debate.

“Both sides make compelling arguments,” says Democratic Representative, Vic Miller. “It’s just what side do you choose? For me, the most important factor in my decision will be what I hear from the people I represent, and I’m still taking that input.”

The committee took no action on Wednesday. The chairman didn’t give a timetable as to when the bill would come up for a vote, but did say he would wait so his colleagues could do their research.