'Serious concerns': UK President Eli Capilouto presses lawmakers not to lift university gun bans
University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto is expressing opposition to a bill that would prevent colleges from banning firearms on campus.
The language — tucked into what's known as a shell bill, allowing lawmakers to effectively introduce new legislation after the session deadline — would bar colleges and universities from banning anyone 21 or older from carrying firearms on campus.
Sponsor, Republican Savannah Maddox, argued schools' gun-free zones are ineffective.
"Banning firearms on campus is clearly not a deterrent for those who would willingly harm others, yet it ensures that innocent victims are defenseless in the face of the unthinkable," the conservative lawmaker and former gubernatorial candidate argued.
In a campus-wide email, Capilouto said UK's law enforcement and safety officials are "unequivocal" on the issue — and believe the measure would make the campus community "less safe."
The UK president went on to urge lawmakers to continue to respect the university's ability to tailor its own rules when it comes to guns.
The bill also faces opposition from the state's Council on Postsecondary Education.
Read President Eli Capilouto's full statement:
We deeply respect the challenging and important work of legislators. It is in that context that we are already communicating directly with policymakers in the Kentucky General Assembly regarding our serious concerns about – and opposition to – legislation that, if passed, would allow concealed firearms on our campus.
Our law enforcement and safety officials on our campus are unequivocal on this issue: allowing guns on campus, in hospitals and in athletics venues makes our community less safe.
We are asking legislators to continue their longstanding support for Kentucky universities – in concert with police and safety officials –to be able to continue to make decisions about how best to ensure our faculty, students, staff, patients and visitors are safe and well.
We will keep you informed about our efforts and the legislative process as it unfolds in the coming days.
Thank you for your commitment to our community and its safety.