Archive for Thursday, January 26, 2017

Crowd turns out at Kansas Statehouse to support bill that would repeal campus carry

University of Kansas graduate student Megan Jones is shown in this file photo from Jan. 26, 2017, testifying at a Kansas Senate committee hearing in favor of a bill to allow colleges, universities and local governments to continue banning the carrying of concealed weapons in public buildings.

University of Kansas graduate student Megan Jones is shown in this file photo from Jan. 26, 2017, testifying at a Kansas Senate committee hearing in favor of a bill to allow colleges, universities and local governments to continue banning the carrying of concealed weapons in public buildings.

January 26, 2017, 9:38 a.m. Updated January 26, 2017, 5:05 p.m.

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— A Statehouse committee room was packed beyond capacity Thursday as scores of people turned out to voice their support for a bill that would allow public colleges, universities and local governments to continue banning the carrying of concealed weapons in public buildings.

"I am in full support of this bill because I don't want to get shot," said Megan Jones, a graduate student and instructor at the University of Kansas. "I don't want to watch someone else get shot. I don't want to wonder if a guy sitting in my classroom is pulling out a cellphone or a firearm."

In 2013, lawmakers passed a bill requiring that most public buildings allow people to carry concealed weapons unless the governing body in charge of the building provides adequate security to ensure that nobody can bring a weapon inside.

University of Kansas graduate student Megan Jones is shown in this file photo from Jan. 26, 2017, testifying at a Kansas Senate committee hearing in favor of a bill to allow colleges, universities and local governments to continue banning the carrying of concealed weapons in public buildings.

University of Kansas graduate student Megan Jones is shown in this file photo from Jan. 26, 2017, testifying at a Kansas Senate committee hearing in favor of a bill to allow colleges, universities and local governments to continue banning the carrying of concealed weapons in public buildings.

Public colleges and universities, along with cities and counties, were allowed to exempt themselves from that law for four years. That four-year period is set to expire July 1.

Senate Bill 53 would go back and amend that law by repealing the expiration date of the exemption, effectively leaving the exemption in place indefinitely.

The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, which held the hearing Thursday, meets in one of the smaller committee rooms in the Statehouse, and so there were nearly as many people left standing in the corridor outside as there were inside the public seating area.

The vast majority of those were people supporting the bill, and most of those were people concerned about gun safety on campuses. They included students and faculty from KU, Kansas State University, Wichita State University, Washburn University in Topeka and Johnson County Community College.

Dan Hoyt, an associate English professor at Kansas State University, echoed the sentiments of many students and faculty when he said they would never have agreed to come to Kansas if they had known the state was going to allow guns on campus.

"I love Kansas, I met my wife in Kansas, I got my Ph.D. at KU, I believe in this state's history," Hoyt said. "Months ago, my wife and I adopted our baby, who was born in Wichita. But I would never have left my job at a university in Ohio to come to Kansas State if I knew there would be guns on campus."

Officials from the League of Kansas Municipalities and the Kansas Association of Counties also testified in support of the bill, arguing that local governments should have autonomy to make their own decisions about gun policies in their buildings.

The Kansas Hospital Association also testified in support, speaking on behalf of publicly owned hospitals, including Lawrence Memorial Hospital and KU Hospital in Kansas City, Kan.

Dozens had arrived early, suspicious that the hearing time had been moved up an hour to 9:30 a.m. instead of 10:30 without public notice. But it turned out there had been a typographical error on the legislative web page listing information about the bill.

Others coming from Johnson and Wyandotte counties were late to the meeting, or unable to attend at all, because of a fatal vehicle crash on westbound Interstate 70 east of Lawrence that blocked traffic for hours.

The hearing lasted about 90 minutes, with supporters of the bill taking up more than two-thirds of that time. But the committee also heard from gun rights advocates who opposed the bill, including former legislators who helped write it in 2013.

"Current law is the compromise position," said former Rep. Travis Couture-Lovelady, R-Palco, who is now a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. "This was worked out a number of years ago, that the universities would have four years to come up with a plan."

Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, also attended the hearing, although she is not a member of the committee. She submitted written testimony arguing that while college and university campus communities might be the ones most directly affected if the law goes into effect, the impact of the law would be felt statewide.

"The law has caused both professors and students to leave the university," Francisco wrote. "I have heard from faculty members who are actively seeking other employment and from students who are planning not to continue their education at KU."

The committee only heard testimony on the bill Thursday. The chairman, Sen. Jacob LaTurner, R-Pittsburg, said he plans to have the committee debate the bill, consider amendments and vote on whether to send it to the full Senate sometime next week.

Live stream of SB 53 hearing (Jan. 26, 2017)

Click here to watch on Facebook.

Comments

Mark Jakubauskas 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Relevant article from the National Conference of State Legislatures:

"Guns on Campus: Overview"

http://www.ncsl.org/research/education/guns-on-campus-overview

Louis Kannen 7 months, 4 weeks ago

" Sen. Ty Masterson, a conservative Andover Republican who supported the 2013 law, said the Kansas State accident shows that a university's ban on concealed guns "does not stop weapons from being on campus. " '...well there, that wilie ol' fox got into the chicken coop and caught one of the chickens...ah, what the heck, may as well just go ahead and leave the gate open...' Pray tell, how does this elected government representatives' moronic attempt at logic even begin to approach the litmus test, let alone pass ?? I'm surmising this genius' desk in Topeka is littered with Tichondera no.2 pencils, erasers scrubbed down to nubs...

Lenny Dowhie 7 months, 3 weeks ago

People like the representative have absolutely NO CLUE what happens on/at a campus. I taught for more than 35 years at a University in Indiana and I do not have enough fingers to count the number of individuals who came to my office and/or classroom extremely upset over a grade. In some cases, I had to have the student removed by security. In other cases, I removed students from the classroom area when their behavior was dangerous and suspect (drugs? Booze?)

I cannot fathom the circumstance where one of these people had EASY access to a gun. Of course, they can illegally have them in their cars, but had they been carrying, I would have known and called the police. As it is now in Indiana, that person, angry as he/she was still would have had to go to their car to get a gun which would have allowed me time to call security and have them intervene.

I am a handgun owner. I also possess a lifetime Conceal Carry License in Indiana (Yes, we can get those), so I am not anti gun by any stretch. I am, however, against putting weapons into the hands of students who are under enormous stress, complicated by the medications, drugs or abuse of alcohol that so many are under. The incident of "need" to carry a gun to defend yourself is so minuscule, that the potential for an outcome that is negative outweighs the "desire" to carry on campus.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 7 months, 4 weeks ago

I was sent an e-mail yesterday by Francisco saying that the hearing on SB 53 was today at 1030. This gave me, or anyone else, little time to prepare and be there. I couldn't as I had a medical appointment this morning. I am opposed to SB 53. It gives control on gun matters back to local authorities, after legislators worked for years to give it only to the state, where it should remain. I am not sure about guns on college campuses. I am reconsidering it. This could be done simply by a permanent exemption, as in K-12 schools. Doing it this way would not change KS constitutional carry, which I am very proud of. SB 53 is overkill, and I do not like it one bit. Nor do I like the short notification time about the hearing. Most of us don't keep up with the legislature's calender.

Greg Cooper 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Why should cc be allowed in one place but not another? Seems to me that either you're allowed to carry without a license (with which I strongly disagree) or you're not. College campuses, legislative areas, hospitals: all are public areas and if you're so convinced that guns are a necessary part of personal "safety", how do you choose?

And, I agree with you about the nearly non-existent scheduling time. That whole thing smacks of back room bargaining.

Melinda Henderson 7 months, 4 weeks ago

FWIW, it didn't appear on the Senate Calendar until yesterday. I wonder how many other legislators took the time to notify their constituents yesterday? Maybe you expect the LJW to alert you? Not sure how you could have been notified sooner. Especially when the Senate Calendar can't be published until they've finished their 2:30pm meeting for the day.

Dave Rintoul 7 months, 4 weeks ago

"former Rep. Travis Couture-Lovelady, R-Palco"

WHY is he referenced as R-Palco when he is no longer in the legislature? He is a paid lobbyist for the NRA. Please refer to him by his correct title, not his former title.

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