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'Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense' Hopes To Change Kansas Law

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The Wichita chapter of a nationwide grassroots organization called Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America is planning to speak out against the decision by Kansas legislators that will allow people to carry guns on college campuses in the state.

The group is hoping to change state legislation that is set to go into effect next summer. They plan to attend candidate forums, ask tough questions and encourage people to vote.

Katy Tyndell is the leader of the Wichita chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense. She says that although her own children are still many years away from attending college, she’s afraid the change will inhibit the free exchange of thought in the university setting.

“Where does this put our faculty if they have to worry about disgruntled students walking into class with firearms?” Tyndell says.

She's worried about other safety issues that could arise as well.

"Drugs and alcohol are prevalent on college campuses. These kids are struggling with issues of mental health. You’ve got high rates of depression, high rates of suicide," Tyndell says. "And when you add easy access to firearms to the mix it just becomes a very dangerous situation.”

Colleges must submit proposed policies for campus carry to the Kansas Board of Regents by October. The legislation was passed several years ago, but schools have been able to opt out. Those exemptions run out in July.

The next legislative session begins in January and lawmakers who also want to stop concealed carry on campuses will have six months to change Kansas law.

Democratic state Rep. Barbara Ballard, whose district includes part of the University of Kansas, says lawmakers who oppose the law see better prospects for repealing it in the next legislative session, but they can't be sure.

Democratic state Sen. Tom Hawk said he recently met with a Republican about reintroducing legislation that would allow universities to set their own policies regarding guns on campus. Hawk said he was surprised that there wasn't more urgency from faculty and students.

Republican state Rep. Melissa Rooker says she supports Second Amendment rights for hunting and self-protection, but is concerned about firearms in a college environment. Rooker says she supports allowing universities to create site-specific guidelines.


Follow Abigail Beckman on Twitter, @AbigailKMUW

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