Archive for Wednesday, October 30, 2013

No charges to be filed in Sunset Hill gun incident

October 30, 2013, 5:02 p.m. Updated October 30, 2013, 6:07 p.m.


A person who carries a loaded gun into a school cannot be charged with a crime, even if the school prohibits such weapons, as long as the person has a valid concealed-carry license, Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said today.

As a result, no charges will be filed against a Sunset Hill School employee who was removed from the building Monday and later fired for carrying a Taurus .380 handgun to work.

Police were dispatched to Sunset Hill, 901 Schwarz, early Monday morning after district officials reported late Friday afternoon that an employee had brought a weapon onto school grounds. Police said the individual was cooperative and did not appear to have any intention of causing harm.

Police said they confiscated the gun and escorted the individual off of school property but did not make an arrest, choosing instead to refer the case to Branson’s office.

“Pursuant to the Kansas Personal and Family Protection Act as amended by the Kansas Legislature which became effective July 1, 2013 a person with a valid concealed carry license who carries a concealed weapon into a properly marked building is not subject to a criminal penalty but may be subject to denial of entry or removal from the premises,” Branson’s office said in a statement this afternoon.

“In the present case, the employee had a valid concealed carry license therefore, no charges can be filed,” the statement said.

Earlier this year, the Kansas Legislature passed House Bill 2052, which broadened the Kansas Personal and Family Protection Act, commonly known as the state concealed-carry law. Gov. Sam Brownback signed the bill into law April 16.

It requires that nearly all state and municipal buildings allow people with valid permits to carry concealed weapons into them, unless the building has adequate security to ensure that nobody can bring a weapon into the building. School districts, however, are specifically exempted from the definition of a municipality.

In addition, however, the bill says: “Any person who violates this section shall not be subject to a criminal penalty but may be subject to denial to such premises or removal from such premises.”

Branson said that provision is what precludes filing criminal charges. He also said he confirmed that decision with the Kansas attorney general’s office.

“It only applies to concealed-carry holders,” Branson said in a telephone interview. “It would be a different issue if this person hadn’t been a concealed-carry holder.”

The new law does allow local governments to establish personnel policies that prohibit employees from carrying concealed weapons into their buildings, and the Lawrence school district maintains such a policy.

As a result, the person involved in the incident at Sunset Hill has been fired, district officials said.

School officials have said the person was a nonteaching staff member at the school, but district officials routinely do not identify employees subject to disciplinary action because those are personnel matters exempt from the Kansas Open Records Act. The Lawrence Police Department also did not identify the individual because the person was not arrested.

Branson said he could not identify the person either because the same law exempts concealed-carry permits from the Open Records Act.

The final version of House Bill 2052 passed the Kansas Senate by a vote of 32-7. Sens. Marci Francisco, of Lawrence, and Tom Holland, of Baldwin City, both Democrats, voted no.

It passed the House, 104-16. Three of the four members of Douglas County’s House delegation voted yes: Democrats Paul Davis and Barbara Ballard, and Republican Tom Sloan voted yes. Democrat John Wilson voted no.


Terry Snell II 4 years, 6 months ago

A win for the good guys. I'm sorry he lost his job. Daydreamers can act like another Sandy hook won't happen, this teacher would have been a hero if he stopped a armed gunmen. Lawrence in the 90's had common sense. We had guns in our gun racks in the high school parking lot at LHS. Never a problem, imagine that 16 year olds with rifles at school. Our country thinks passing more laws work, they dont. Oh yeah, thanks Bill Clinton, I remember the day we had to leave are guns at home.

Seth Peterson 4 years, 6 months ago

The denial is strong with this one. First off, it wasn't a teacher - that's been clearly stated in all three stories done on this topic.

Would you care to show us how many children have been saved at school from an armed staff member versus how many have died from accidental gun deaths?

Bob Forer 4 years, 6 months ago

"this teacher would have been a hero if he stopped a armed gunmen"

The odds of that happening are much lower than being struck by lightning, but perhaps a little better than the chances of winning the grand prize in the lottery.

Terry Snell II 4 years, 6 months ago

Take your odds to the casino. Gambling with children's safety is not a good idea. Armed teachers can stop a armed criminal. People need to start realizing our country has very sick people out there. Only takes one person to affect an entire community.

Amy Varoli Elliott 4 years, 6 months ago

You want to carry a gun go to the police academy, until then you are doing more harm than good.

Jason Johnson 4 years, 6 months ago

I disagree. I've been around guns all my life, from the age of 6 until today (so 34 years). I was taught how to hunt, how to respect the gun, how that it's a tool that can be abused. I was taught trigger control, I was taught never to point the gun at something that you didn't want to die - because one wrong move and that person/animal could die.

I've seen people go through the police academy (and military!) who shouldn't be allowed to touch a firearm, yet because they're a "cop" or a "soldier", somehow they're magically able to handle that firearm safely and responsibly.

Seth Peterson 4 years, 6 months ago

Not gambling with children's lives is the exact reason guns are not allowed at school. We'd rather not have accidental deaths piled on top of those from the sick.

Chelsea Kapfer 4 years, 6 months ago

this is my kids school, and I do not want an employee with a gun. Since this person was caught, he obviously had the gun where someone could see it. Not ok with me, and i do not like this employee gambling with MY kids safety.

Mike Thomas 4 years, 6 months ago

We had guns in the classroom in the show and tell case when I was a child at cordley . I remember Mr Hoffman having several on show in a case. I even got to bring a .41 cal in for my lincoln display in 5th grade so whats wrong with protecting the younger gen?

Seth Peterson 4 years, 6 months ago

They figured out that having guns in school wasn't protecting anyone and that when students were allowed to bring guns to school, more children died at school.

Jason Johnson 4 years, 6 months ago

er, what? I went to a school (up in Nebraska), and exactly zero children have ever died in that school system due to a gun, all the way back to the 1800s, even!

Seth Peterson 4 years, 6 months ago

Same with my school, of course they didn't save anyone either, which is Mike's point - having guns there would protect the children isn't true. Not to mention anecdotal evidence (with a sample size of two now) isn't exactly something to base a decision with as much impact as this would have off of.

Terry Snell II 4 years, 6 months ago

I hear this challenge a lot. How many armed citizens have stopped a gunmen at school and guns kill children. My question is how many Police have stopped a armed gunmen at school before they harmed a child? Yes, guns can be a danger to anyone if misused. Its called being prepared and learning from mistakes. Someone at school should be armed security, police, trained staff, that gives the good guys the upper hand. Now, anti gun school boards, this is why the State needs to override you. Step up to the plate or Topeka will send you the orders soon.

Seth Peterson 4 years, 6 months ago

Yes, and we learned from this mistake and removed the armed individuals from our schools to better protect our children as they cause a greater risk.

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