Kansas Prof Quits Over Campus Carry Law

"It’s in my best interest to assume that if you have a gun, you are a threat," said Deborah Ballard-Reisch.
"It's in my best interest to assume that if you have a gun, you are a threat," said Deborah Ballard-Reisch, pictured here. photo from wichita.eduweb photo

As Kansas prepares for it’s new campus carry laws to go into effect on July 1, one communications professor at Wichita State University says she’s resigned the same day because the law is “in opposition to the values of higher education.”

According to this story from kansas.com, Deborah Ballard-Reisch, a tenured professor in WSU's Elliott School of Communication, submitted a letter to the WSU president stating her intentions.

"Clear, open, critical discussion cannot take place in an environment of threat and fear," Ballard-Reisch wrote. "As someone who has experienced gun violence personally, I do not feel safe with guns in the classroom."

The story says she and her adult son were robbed at gunpoint during a home invasion in 2014.

[Under the new law, passed in 2013](http://www.range365.com/kansas-prepares-for-campus-carry0, public colleges in the state must allow concealed carry by beginning next month. Universities and community colleges were given a four-year extension to comply, the story says.

Two years ago, Kansas passes a constitutional carry law allowing any resident in Kansas who is 21 or older and legally allowed to own a firearm to carry without a permit. Because of the age requirement, only a small segment of the student body would be allowed to carry.

Ballard-Reisch says in the story she chose to retire and to make her resignation letter public to send a message to state lawmakers and others who support the campus-carry measure.

"I've heard several legislators say this isn't a big deal, that nobody cared and nobody was going to quit over this. And I thought, 'No, I really am,' " she said in the story.

The story points out that 10 states have provisions allowing concealed firearms on public college campuses: Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin—and there have not been any disastrous results so far.

Cale Ostby, the president of the WSU chapter of Students for Concealed Carry, a group that formed last semester, said the professor’s decision is “really unfortunate.”

"I imagine she probably hasn't had many conversations with anyone who is planning on carrying or knows much of the argument about why we're in support of it," Ostby said in the story. "We have the constitutional right, if you're over the age of 21, to carry everywhere else that we go. So we feel we should also be reserved the right to carry discreetly on campus as well."

The story says last month that Jacob Dorman, an associate professor of history and American studies at the University of Kansas, submitted his letter of resignation and shared it online, along similar lines.

"If I see you walking down the street with a gun, if I see a gun in your bag, I don't feel safer because I don't know who you are. I don't know what your intentions are," Ballard-Reisch said in the story.

“You can kill me, so it’s in my best interest to assume that if you have a gun, you are a threat. And knowing that, I don’t feel that I can do my best in the classroom anymore or make a safe space for students.”

Rep. John Whitmer (R-Wichita) says in the story that more than 100 college campuses have embraced concealed carry in recent years, without incident. He said people had similar fears when Kansas first allowed constitutional carry.

"People thought there would be gunfights in the streets, and we haven't seen it," he said in the story. "Once the policy goes into effect—six months, nine months, 12 months down the road—nobody will even notice it's there."