At around 3:40 a.m. on Tuesday, a student at Kennesaw State University in Georgia was loading up his car in the parking lot of an on-campus residence hall when he was robbed at gunpoint by two thieves. They left with his wallet — and his handgun.
Kennesaw University’s campus police, which are handling the case, have not revealed whether the robbery victim had a valid concealed-gun license permit — a requirement for him to bring his gun onto school property under Georgia’s new campus-carry law, which took effect July 1. But the incident occurred as university leaders in the three states that passed or enacted guns-on-campus laws this year are still adjusting to the presence of firearms on the properties they oversee.
On July 14, an employee at Wichita State University in Kansas found a .40-caliber handgun in a bathroom on campus. A guns-on-campus law had just taken effect in the state two weeks earlier.
College administrators in Kansas and Arkansas, where campus carry takes effect in September, were forced to install pricey security measures, like metal detectors and barricades, in order to keep guns out of athletic venues. The exemption sprang from legislators’ concern about the prospect of thousands of rowdy football fans wielding guns.
State-level polling shows strong opposition to campus carry, but when the school year begins this fall, a dozen states will allow firearms on school grounds. While crimes by permitted handgun owners on campus have been rare, the addition of firearms to university settings has has raised the same risks of negligent discharges and escalated confrontations as experienced wherever loaded firearms are found.
In 2012, five years after guns were first allowed on college campuses in Utah, a student at Weber State University was carrying a handgun in his pocket when it discharged, wounding him in the leg. The following year, a student at the University of Southern Mississippi accidentally shot himself while sitting in a car on campus.
The danger goes beyond accidents. In 2015, a fight broke out among students in a Northern Arizona University parking lot. The school allows guns in cars parked on college grounds, as long as they’re stowed. One student, who was an avid gun enthusiast, ran to his car, grabbed his weapon, and opened fire. He killed one classmate and wounded three others. The gunman claimed he acted in self defense.
“I thought they were going to kill me,” he told police after the incident. “I was just walking home.”