After much “soul-searching,” a professor at Wichita State University has decided to resign because of a state law that will soon allow concealed weapons on campus.
In her resignation letter, Deborah Ballard-Reisch, a tenured professor in WSU’s Elliott School of Communication, wrote that she has personally experienced gun violence – she was robbed at gun point in a her own home three years ago – and does “not feel safe with guns in the classroom.”
She added that permitting concealed carry weapons will “dampen open, frank conversation, so necessary for promoting intellectual growth and an informed citizenry” and “put the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff at risk.”
In 2013, Kansas passed a law permitting the concealed carry of handguns in all public places. Public colleges and universities could choose exemption from the law until July 2017.
Earlier this year, Republican state Representative Stephanie Clayton attempted to extend that exemption indefinitely, claiming the 2013 law needs to be reviewed now that Kansas is a constitutional carry state. However, her efforts failed.
According to The Wichita Eagle, Ballard-Reisch hopes to send a message to lawmakers with her resignation letter. The communications professor said she will retire on July 1, the date the law goes into effect.
“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 told The Wichita Eagle.
But Ballard-Reisch isn’t the first professor to resign over the law. Last month, Jacob Dorman, an associate professor at University of Kansas made his departure from the state school rather public.
In his resignation letter, which he shared online and submitted to various local newspapers, Dorman wrote, “Kansas can have great universities, or it can have concealed carry in classrooms, but it cannot have both.”
We fail to see why.
Republican state Representative John Whitmer, R-Wichita reminded The Wichita Eagle that there are more than 100 college campuses across the country that have had zero firearm-related incidents since allowing concealed-carry.
“There’s a lot of fear and there’s a lot of stress, but the facts don’t match that,” he concluded.