Kentucky Bill Would Allow Concealed Carry Guns on College Campuses

All of Kentucky's 24 public institutions of higher education currently ban concealed firearms.
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Published on March 14, 2023
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  • The bill allows concealed firearms at all public higher education institutions.
  • The University of Kentucky's president and the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education oppose the bill.
  • Students interviewed by had mixed opinions on the new bill.

Kentucky is contemplating a campus concealed carry law similar to the one signed into law March 1 in neighboring West Virginia.

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, a Kentucky bill to allow firearms on campus passed through a legislative committee March 7 despite opposition from higher education organizations and mixed feelings from students.

All 24 public colleges and universities currently ban concealed firearms on their campuses, according to

House Bill 542, sponsored by three Republican representatives, says any public postsecondary education facility shall not limit, restrict, or prohibit concealed carry weapons. This does not apply to any private postsecondary education institution, university-operated hospitals, and organized events with over 1,000 spectators.

"I guarantee if you ask any woman that was raped on a campus, they would've preferred to have a gun to fight their attacker," Republican state Rep. Bill Wesley said in the committee meeting. "I believe these students — responsible adults paying for their college education — that they have a right to defend themselves."

Kentucky Higher Ed Institutions Oppose Concealed Carry Bill

The same day, Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) President Aaron Thompson released a statement saying that CPE, the state's public colleges and universities, and the schools' police chiefs unanimously oppose any policy increasing weapons on campus.

"In addition, considering the student mental health crisis we are now experiencing, we are concerned that an increased presence of guns could lead to higher rates of violence and suicide," said Thompson. "When a gun is readily available, a suicide attempt can become significantly more lethal."

Thompson said CPE is unaware of any statistical evidence that campus community members carrying handguns reduces college campus violence.

University of Kentucky (UK) President Eli Capilouto sent a message to the community saying the university is opposed to the new bill.

"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," Capilouto said.