As we talk with folks around the state about campus carry, one of the responses we receive is imbued with a sense of fatalism: “Oh well, campus carry is the law, there's nothing we're going to be able to do about it now.” I want to respond directly to that sentiment. To spoil the surprise, I'll say right now that the answer to the question, “Yes! We can win on campus carry.”
First, let's be clear on what needs to happen. When the original law was passed in 2013, the public colleges and universities (and state mental health centers) were granted an exemption of four years, to July 1, 2017. That much you know. In order for campus carry not to go into effect on that date, it would take an act of the legislature and the signature of the governor. The simplest legislation would probably be to simply extend the exemption, either permanently (our preferred option) or for some period of time. “Repealing” the law is not necessary and we don't and won't use that language; in fact no other part of the “Kansas Personal and Family Protection Act” needs to be affected at all.
Another major consideration here is that basically all the stakeholders agree with us that campus carry is a a terrible idea. The administrators don't want it (though they're legally prohibited from saying so publicly), campus law enforcement doesn't want it, students and faculty don't want it, and parents of students don't want it. Faculty are already leaving, and students are already not enrolling, because of it. The sole exception to this is gun rights' advocates, and campus carry is a test case of whether a powerful interest group can really overrule the will of basically everyone else on an important public policy issue.
In further good news, the recent state elections – both the primaries in the August and the general election in November – turned out about as good for us on this issue as we could have hoped. Many of the most vocal and dogmatic advocates of campus carry were defeated, and many of the Moderate Republicans and Democrats who replaced them are either already on the record as opposing campus carry or, we have reason to believe, will be sympathetic to our position. In the most inside-baseball sense (and skip to the next paragraph if your eyes glaze over), the Kansas House will have a majority of members that can be considered Moderate Republican or Democratic, and the Senate will be split 50-50. So we have what to work with there.
As for whether the governor would sign a bill, well, if rumors coming from Washington are true, he might not even be the governor by the time this reaches his desk. And whoever is governor, we will have to try to influence them the same way we would influence legislators or anyone else – through outreach, through meetings, through petitions, through direct action if necessary, through the influence of the faith community.
None of this is a sure thing, and none of it will be easy, and it's not going to happen by magic or by itself. All of this will depend primarily if not exclusively on the active engagement of folks like you, both through the mechanism of KACC/KIFA and through direct interaction with your elected officials and your community leaders and friends.
And that leads me to a general comment about the fatalism that is evidenced by the statement that “there's nothing we can do.” And this goes for KIFA as much as it does for KACC. We do what we do because we always, always, always believe there's something we can do. We have found, time and again, that when we stand for what we believe is right, energies make themselves evident that could not have been predicted or planned for. That's why we call ourselves “people of faith.”
So in answer to the question, “Can we win on campus carry?” - the answer, my friends, is a resounding YES!