Topeka — Legislation allowing Kansans to carry concealed handguns should be amended to ban the guns anywhere that schoolchildren gather, members of a Senate committee said after hearing two days of testimony.
As approved earlier by the House, the bill would prohibit concealed handguns from numerous places including public schools, courthouses, the Statehouse, the Kansas State Fair, polling places, universities, bars, law enforcement offices, jails, prisons and mental health hospitals. Businesses could also ban concealed guns.
But schools aren't the only places where school-related activities take place, witnesses told the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee on Tuesday in arguing that the list of prohibited places should be expanded. The committee plans to debate the bill next week.
"I think there will probably be a host of amendments," said Chairman Pete Brungardt, R-Salina. "I think there are a lot of loose ends."
The bill requires the Kansas Bureau of Investigation to issue a concealed-carry permit to any Kansan who pays a $150 application fee and is a U.S. citizen at least 21 years old, has no mental illness or drug or alcohol addiction and completes eight hours of training.
Only Kansas, Illinois, Nebraska and Wisconsin do not have some type of concealed-carry law. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has said she favors allowing only retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed.
Supporters of the bill said they thought the bill had emerged from the House without needing significant changes.
"It may be people trying to derail it," said Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville, the measure's leading proponent in the Senate.
But Kim Gulley, a lobbyist for the League of Kansas Municipalities, recommended to the committee Tuesday that cities should be given authority to prohibit concealed guns at community centers, parks and swimming pools.
Mark Desetti, lobbyist for the Kansas-National Education Association, said the prohibition should also apply at day care centers and wherever school activities occur.
Sen. Ruth Teichman, R-Stafford, said after the hearing she wants the committee to consider banning concealed guns at places where schoolchildren gather.
That idea was favored also by Sen. John Vratil, who described the bill as "a little broadly written." Vratil, R-Leawood, has said that churches should also be on the list.
But Journey said he wants a relatively short list of places where concealed guns are banned to make it easier for people with permits to comply with the law.
Concealed carry is HB 2798.