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.