Several of Kennesaw State’s 35,000 students are returning to campus this semester unaware that guns are now permitted in their classes.
House Bill 280, enacted on July 1, gives licensed gun holders the ability to carry their gun with them in non-exempt sections of college campuses. Although Jeff Milsteen, KSU’s chief legal affairs officer, discussed the possibility of integrating the new law into orientation programs at a packed information session in July, many students — returning and incoming alike — have expressed they had no knowledge of the law before entering their classrooms.
Alexandria Dumas, a freshman industrial and electrical engineering major, said the bill was not discussed in any fashion at orientation — not by any of the tents she visited, brochures she received or speakers she listened to.
“I only know about the concealed carry permit law because my English teacher talked about it in class,” Dumas said.
She said a description of the bill was put into the syllabus, and her professor discussed the rules and expectations of the bill on the first day.
However, campus carry is not exclusively a surprise to incoming students. When Samantha Winship, a junior Information systems major, was asked what she knew about the bill, she answered simply: “Nothing.”
One student interviewed was under the impression that gun owners were not allowed to carry in the same room as anyone under the age of eighteen. In fact, the law prohibits gun owners from carrying weapons into any classroom where high school students are enrolled, regardless of the student’s age. Other spaces where high school students might be, such dining facilities and student centers, are not exempt.
Other areas of campus in which students are not permitted to carry their handguns include, but not limited to, staff and faculty offices, student housing and sporting facilities.
Additionally, students who are licensed are allowed to carry handguns only, and only in a way that is not visible to others.
Handguns are also not allowed to be left unattended and cannot be stored on university property — except for in personal vehicles — as they as they are an extension of personal property.
The university has sent three emails about the bill since it was passed, although it is unclear whether newly-accepted students were included in this correspondence.
Milsteen noted in the July information session that those who intend to carry on campus are solely responsible for knowing the rules, meaning that KSU will not be providing guidance. Gun owners are expected to know where they can and cannot have weapons and if any high school students are enrolled in the courses that they take.
Students can find out whether any high school students are enrolled in their classes by going to Owl Express and clicking on the campus carry information link under the registration tab.
Violations of the campus carry law can result in misdemeanor charges and will also be subject to student code of conduct repercussions.
For more information on the law, visit http://police.kennesaw.edu/campuscarry.php.