WICHITA — The case of a former Wichita State University student who was arrested for carrying a loaded gun on campus points to what could be an unintended loophole allowing criminals who are barred from carrying a gun to get away with it.
Under the current law, police can’t question someone carrying a firearm unless they suspect that person has committed another crime. This means police can’t check whether a person is actually armed or has a past conviction making it illegal to carry, the Wichita Eagle reported.
The Wichita State case began after a student reported that classmate John W. Bannon frequently carried a gun, claimed to be with Homeland Security, interrogated other students and used drugs, according to court documents. University officers confronted Bannon in 2013. He denied he was armed, but a search found he was carrying a handgun with 15 rounds of ammunition, court documents show.
The former student was later jailed for the gun charge and for making a criminal threat against an officer about a year later. Bannon’s lawyer tried to reduce his sentence in 2015 after the state passed a law making it legal for gun owners to carry concealed weapons without a permit. The lawyer’s request was rejected.
Bannon would have probably violated the current concealed-carry law when he was arrested because he had a misdemeanor conviction for domestic battery, said Democratic Rep. John Carmichael of Wichita, a lawyer and opponent of campus carry. But under current law, police wouldn’t have been allowed to investigate whether Bannon had a weapon in the first place unless they had reason to suspect him of another crime.
“Whether it’s at our universities, or whether it’s anywhere else in public on the streets or otherwise, law enforcement officers have no way to know whether someone carrying a firearm, concealed or unconcealed, is in fact someone (who’s) disqualified from carrying a firearm because of prior convictions,” Carmichael said. “At some point, we are going to have a tragedy arise because of that.”
Republican Rep. John Whitmer, who supports campus carry, said he’d be willing to help change the law to separate law-abiding gun owners from illegal gun carriers.