In an unusual burst of objective journalism, the Kansas City Star ran a featured article on Sunday that allowed a University of Kansas student to make a good case for campus carry. “Tom,” a Shawnee Mission South grad, is a 21-year-old business major. Thanks to the extension of Kansas’s concealed carry law to public universities, Tom now carries his Glock 19 handgun with its 15-round magazine in his backpack.
“I mean, I’m just a normal student who cares about their safety and the safety of people around them,” Tom told the Star. “You see all this stuff on the news about people getting killed and having no way to protect themselves. That is why I choose to carry.”
Tom was 16 when a mentally unbalanced young man calmly entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, killing 20 children and six adults at will. “I think the first thing that got me to start paying attention was probably Sandy Hook,” he said. “That was not a college campus, but it got me thinking of violence at public schools in general.”
Tom would have been only 11–and may not remember–when a mentally disturbed South Korean killed 32 of his fellow students and wounded 17 more at Virginia Tech University. Virginia did not allow campus carry. The only students who had guns were those who chose to ignore the law. The other students were defenseless.
Although the Star does not mention the Virginia Tech incident, it did choose a worthy candidate to make the case for concealed carry. Tom has been shooting for years and took a firearms class before he bought his first gun. He is contemplating a future as an FBI agent.
Making the case against campus carry was the bulletproof vest wearing professor the Sentinel featured a few days ago, Kevin Willmott. “This new Kansas policy tries to make handguns a normal part of everyday campus life: book bag, cellphone, laptop, handgun and ammunition. This is a dangerous and reckless policy.”
Tom knows better. “Being in a blue county in Kansas, there are not many gun-friendly people here,” he told the Star. “So I wasn’t worried about there being 10,000 students on campus carrying guns. I knew it would be fairly limited. I didn’t think it would be a bad thing.”
“With this new law here I feel safer,” Tom adds, “not just because I carry. I also think that it creates some sort of deterrent for people who could be planning to do something. They could be thinking, ‘Well, these people have guns. So if I go in there and do something, I might get killed in the process.’”