Filmmaker Kevin Willmott is taking a stand against campus carry. Willmott, who also teaches media and film at the University of Kansas, showed up to class last week wearing a bulletproof vest. His point, he doesn’t feel safe in the classroom anymore.
“Try to forget that I’m wearing a vest, and I’ll try to forget that you could be packing a .44 magnum,” Willmott told UDK.com, the student paper of KU.
Willmott likened the new law that allows law-abiding citizens to carry on campus grounds provided they’re over the age of 21 to a “nice/nasty” form of segregation from the ’50s where instead of erecting big signs enforcing the separation of whites and blacks businesses would put up small notices to conceal the policy from plain sight.
“The disturbing part of the policy for me is that it is concealed,” Professor Willmott explained. “It’s kind of a don’t ask, don’t tell kind of a policy, and so, you’re just kind of expected to forget that they’re probably there. And in that sense, you’re kind of living in a lie.”
“And that’s what this policy is all about,” Willmott continued. “They don’t want it to be visible, because if it was visible, if everybody was walking around with a bulletproof vest on, people would say, ‘Oh my God, is this a warzone? What’s going on here?’ And yes, it is a warzone. No one’s started shooting yet. Yet. But we don’t know how many people have guns.”
Willmott went on to argue that guns on campus chill the free exchange of ideas in the classroom, that everyone — students, teachers, administrators — is scared and that the mental health of college students is already fragile and having guns around will have tragic results.
“You know, I’m a filmmaker, and it’s like you’re living in a satire,” Willmott said. “You’re living in this kind of crazy satire where you’re teaching and people can have guns. I mean it’s crazy, it’s crazy. I don’t know how else to say it.”
Willmott says he plans to wear the vest for at least a year.
Fears over campus carry are overblown. The notion that students and teachers and administrators are living in a warzone with blood in the streets is complete and utter nonsense.
In an article published on The Hill back in May, researcher and economist John Lott Jr. flat-out debunked the notion that campus carry poses a threat to student safety.
“Twelve states mandate the right to permitted concealed carry on public college campuses and an additional 22 states leave it up to the university,” wrote Lott. “Not once has a permit holder in any of these states committed a crime on one of these campuses with a gun.”
Lott also made a good point regarding Kansas’ Constitutional carry standard which doesn’t require one to obtain a permit to carry concealed.
“It is a wonder how these professors ever go off campus. After all, there are over 1.15 million concealed handgun permit holders in Texas. Kansans don’t even need a permit to carry. Professors can’t go to restaurants, movie theaters, or grocery stores without being around legally carried concealed handguns,” he noted.
Lott’s right. If KU is a warzone, well then so is the entire state of Kansas. If he is going to be intellectually consistent, Willmott should wear that vest everywhere he goes, not just to class.