This story has been updated at 4:10 p.m. on April 19.
The University of Kansas, Kansas State and Wichita State all want to prevent fans from carrying concealed weapons into major sporting events.
The three schools asked a Kansas Board of Regents committee Wednesday for permission to use metal detectors and armed security to screen fans. The committee agreed.
Unless the Legislature changes the law, and that appears unlikely, almost anyone age 21 or older will be allowed to carry a concealed firearm on a Kansas college campus as of July 1. Schools can ban guns only if they implement what the law calls “adequate security measures”, essentially using metal detectors and staffing them with armed guards.
K-State, KU and Wichita State all will ban guns at sporting events with more than 5,000 people in attendance. That mostly means football and basketball in Lawrence and Manhattan, and basketball and some baseball games in Wichita.
Cindy Bontrager, Vice President for Administration and Finance at K-State, says they’re worried alcohol could lead to some bad choices at Bill Snyder Family Stadium and Bramlage Coliseum.
“We really want to make sure we’re maintaining a very safe environment for our alums and our families who come and participate, and our students, in those events,” she says.
K-State says its athletic department will buy up to 70 metal detectors. Wichita State told the committee it will buy up to 20 at $3,600 each for a total of $72,000. If K-State pays the same amount per unit, the cost would be $252,000. KU says its athletic department will pay for metal detectors and police but did not offer a cost estimate.
KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little says the university would like to keep guns out of more buildings but it’s too expensive. “Frankly, we can’t afford to have them in other places.”
The metal detectors are the cheapest part of the endeavor because they are a one-time cost. The more expensive part is paying armed guards to staff them. That will mostly be done with campus police officers but KU Police Chief Chris Keary says he may need to contract with other local law enforcement agencies to staff the metal detectors.
The committee voted 4-1 to approve the plans.
For Regent Shane Bangerter from Dodge City, the sole dissenting vote, the whole thing is a waste of money. “In my opinion we’re as safe or more safe allowing people to concealed carry to those events,” he says.
Emporia State, Pittsburg State and Fort Hays State did not ask for any exemptions.
The committee is recommending that the full Board of Regents refuse KU’s additional request that anyone carrying a concealed gun on that campus have it on their person rather than in a purse or backpack that the school argues could get stolen.
Sam Zeff covers education for KCUR and the Kansas News Service and is co-host of the political podcast Statehouse Blend Kansas. Follow him on Twitter @SamZeff. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to KCUR.org.