Mark Meets World: Gun policy too trusting

Mark Feuerborn

Kansas’ impending requirement that all universities allow students to carry concealed weapons on campus is looming closer, and with it comes the need for Washburn to create its official policy on this new rule.

In the past few weeks, Washburn has made presentations hosted by the university attorney for the purpose of showcasing the drafted policy in its current form, and opening the floor to input from students and faculty.

At this point, Washburn students must understand that there is no getting out of guns on campus. As dangerous as this sounds – especially knowing Kansas law currently doesn’t require citizens to undergo any firearm training whatsoever to legally purchase and concealed carry a firearm – the law has been set in stone for now, and the school’s four-year exemption has been exhausted.

After attending one of the presentations on the draft policy, what this author found most alarming of all is the policy allows students to store firearms in their dorms. This may seem reasonable under the circumstances at first, given living on campus shouldn’t bar them from making use of the new policy.

Consider this, however: the university policy outlines that it won’t provide any form of firearm storage on-campus, and requires that students living on-campus have means to properly store their firearm such as a gun safe. What’s more, it specifies it must be a digital keypad or thumbprint safe as opposed to a key safe, meaning it must be a more expensive model and a potential spending problem for a college student.

When the draft policy presentation elaborated on this, it was revealed that the university is not allowed to ask any student on or off-campus if they are storing or carrying a firearm. Thus, while the policy can make the claim that students must properly store their guns, it has no way to enforce this mandate.

This loophole is a clear setup for disaster. Any student who fails to properly store their firearm allows all roommates access to it, and risk for accidental discharge shoots skyward. A mentally ill or intoxicated student finding their roommate’s loose gun is a terrifying scenario.

At this point, the best course of action is to start a student organization for responsible gun-owners on campus to voluntarily register their firearm with the school. Some form of system to allow students to opt out of rooming with a gun-owner must be available, and responsible gun ownership and training must be encouraged.