Academic Freedom under the Gun: A Report from Kansas

By Elizabeth Esch, Megan Jones, and David Roediger


Faculty and students at the University of Kansas fought the recent implementation of concealed carry of guns on campus. The struggle involved taking on not just the state legislature and national practices of limiting research on gun violence, but also fighting a university administration that would not challenge, and indeed raised fears of violating, a dubiously constitutional state law that made “lobbying” against guns illegal. Thus the fight against campus carry was from the beginning a fight about academic freedom. Trying to prevent guns in the classroom revealed another level of crisis in the state of Kansas, an existing problem of a university administration that in the name of good relations with a hostile legislature fails to stand up to elected officials regarding basic protections of student, staff, and academic speech and of the right to organize around a workplace health and safety issue.

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