This 2017 legislative session has had a lot of gun-related legislation proposed and debated. Here is the gist of what is happening.
But first, we encourage you to contact your Kansas state legislators to let them know you oppose further loosening of gun safety measures, and support returning control of firearm ordinances to local communities.
In 2013, the Kansas Legislature passed HB 2578, which took away the rights of local cities and counties to regulate firearms in any way, making state-level legislation apply everywhere in Kansas. This bill also included an exemption for public hospitals, public mental health institutions, and public universities (called “campus carry”) until July 1, 2017. Then, in 2015, the Legislature passed SB 45, which allowed concealed carry without a license or training.
The campus carry deadline this summer, in combination with the abandonment of any requirements for concealed carry, has precipitated a lot of proposals and debate, including attempts to delay or extend indefinitely the exemption for campus carry, and opposing proposals to even further limit institutions’ abilities to limit firearms on their campuses.
So where are we now?
As of right now, the public institution exemption will expire on July 1, 2017. Several bills have been introduced to extend or delay that, as well as amendments to other bills. SB 53 to extend the exemption indefinitely is dead, having been rejected by Senator Jacob LaTurner’s Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs. An equivalent House bill, HB 2074, is similarly stalled, despite overwhelming support at hearings for both bills.
Finally, SB 235, had a hearing on Thursday, Mar 23, and would exempt public hospitals and mental health institutions permanently, but not university campuses. This bill got placed into another gutted bill, HB 2278, a procedural move that could speed its passage. The NRA has lobbied heavily against this bill.
This push to exempt public institutions from concealed carry has been countered by a slew of proposals to loosen gun safety laws even more, a pushback from the NRA and KSRA. Among these proposals are:
- SB 156 sought to make penalties stiffer if firearms are left unattended where children could find them. It has stalled in committee.
- HB 2042 which would require Kansas to honor concealed carry licenses from other states, subject to certain restrictions in line with the KS law (e.g., it would only apply to handguns, as the KS law does). This bill has passed out of committee.
- HB 2081 would protect public employers from liability if an employee commits a crime using a concealed handgun. This bill has passed out of committee.
- HB 2220 would prevent colleges and universities from making any regulations regarding guns (e.g., a regulation to prevent guns from being stored on campus (dorms), which would be effective in reducing guns present on campus, even if concealed carry is allowed).
Repeal of campus carry not dead, yet
If any of these other bills get a floor vote in their chamber, amendments could be proposed to include language to repeal the campus carry provision, so the issue is not dead yet. HB 2042 and HB 2081 are both available for floor votes, so the action is most likely to happen in the Kansas House of Representatives. In addition, HB 2278 is the new SB 235, which exempts hospitals but not universities. They all bear watching: HB 2042, HB 2081, HB 2278.
The NRA has called proposals to limit concealed carry at public institutions a “solution in search of a problem.” Safety measures are just that, a solution meant to prevent dangerous situations before they arise. The NRA lobby’s solution is to wait until guns are brandished, then brandish more to “solve” the problem.
Continued loosening of common sense gun safety laws, and a continued insistence that laws appropriate to one community must apply to another, will only make Kansans less safe.
Do more than vote.