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Kentucky students weigh in on legislation that would allow guns on campus

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Posted at 8:34 AM, Mar 09, 2023

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — College students across Kentucky have mixed feelings about legislation to allow concealed carry on campuses.

After a gunman opened fire at students on Michigan State University's campus, killing three people, safety has been top of mind.

Right now, all of Kentucky's 24 public colleges and universities ban concealed carry on campus.

That's comforting to University of Kentucky student Johnna Campbell.

"College campuses have a lot of people who deal with mental health issues and a lot of people feel like that's a huge root cause in people retaliating," said Campbell.

But contrarily, not being able to protect herself is frustrating for Morehead State University student Jenna Knoe.

"Personally, I've been shooting guns since I was pretty much four years old. My dad is a police officer and I've had this gun training and I am very aware of how to use one — how to protect myself and others," said Knoe.

Both were concerned after they heard about the most recent shooting at a college campus. However, like many Kentuckians, they disagree on what to do about it.

Former gubernatorial candidate and lawmaker Savanah Maddox is one of the sponsors of Senate Bill 542.

The bill would change the rules to allow concealed carry license holders to carry firearms on campus even if a school is opposed to it.

The Kentucky Council on Post-Secondary Education said all Kentucky colleges and universities oppose the bill.

UK President Eli Capilouto sent an email to students saying they would continue to push back against it.

"I personally wouldn't feel safe on campus seeing other students have a concealed carry or a gun or something like that," said University of Kentucky student Joseph Stasiuois.

Some students cite elevated fears about how mental health and training would impact having more guns on campus.

"The idea of 'a good person with a gun can save people from a bad person with a gun' doesn't usually work out that way because how do you know a good person with a gun is even gonna be there? Or knows how to use or not gonna freeze?" said Campbell.

Others say they haven't had time to form an opinion.

"Just like anything, there are pros and cons to each side of the story," said University of Kentucky student Matthew Couch. "I would be willing to listen to opinions on any of it either side."

Regardless of where students stand, the bill is quickly making its way to the House floor for a vote after passing committee on Tuesday.