Archive for Monday, March 26, 2018

Battle over arming teachers set to begin in Kansas House

The House of Representatives chamber of the Kansas Statehouse is pictured July 23, 2014 in Topeka.

The House of Representatives chamber of the Kansas Statehouse is pictured July 23, 2014 in Topeka.

March 26, 2018

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— Three days after thousands of people in several Kansas cities rallied and marched to demand stricter gun control laws, a legislative committee will hold a hearing on a bill that would make it easier for school districts to allow teachers and other staff to carry concealed firearms on campus.

The House Insurance Committee will hear testimony starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday on House Bill 2789, known as the Staff as First Emergency Responders, or SAFER Act, would authorize districts to let certain staff members to carry firearms in schools, if they have a license to carry concealed firearms and undergo additional special training.

Rep. Blake Carpenter, R-Derby, who helped draft the bill, said it is intended to address concerns of some insurance companies that have said in the past that they won't write property and casualty insurance policies if districts allow concealed firearms in their schools.

"It's trying to make it to where we keep the insurance costs low for the school districts," he said in an interview Monday.

Among other things, the bill would provide that insurance companies could not refuse to issue a policy solely because the district allows concealed carry, nor could they charge unfair or discriminatory premiums and fees for those that choose to take part in the program.

In addition, in its current form, the bill would create what's called a "rebuttable presumption" in law that a district could be found negligent in a civil case if it does not allow staff to carry concealed firearms.

Carpenter, however, said he plans to ask the committee for an amendment to delete that portion of the bill.

"Because basically what we want to do is keep this at local control and make it to where school boards have the entire (authority)," he said.

The bill was introduced Wednesday, March 21, in the Federal and State Affairs Committee, which is exempt from most legislative deadlines. But it was referred to the Insurance Committee, which quickly scheduled a hearing for Tuesday.

News about that hearing spread quickly after the Kansas Association of School Boards issued an email alert. Both KASB and United School Administrators issued a joint statement Monday saying they oppose the bill.

A lobbyist for the National Rifle Association said Monday that his group was still studying the bill and had not yet taken an official position on it.

Several lawmakers said they received a flurry of emails over the weekend, mainly from people opposed to the bill.

"From the emails that I've received, and heard of others receiving, there are stacks of emails saying, 'If you do this we will quit,'" Rep. Cindy Neighbor, D-Shawnee, the ranking Democrat on the Insurance Committee, said in an interview. "We already have a teacher shortage. I think it's a safety issue and I don't think guns belong in the classroom."

House Minority Leader Jim Ward, D-Wichita, called the bill "absolutely a terrible idea" and said he doubts it has enough support to pass the House.

"I would hope not. I mean, you would have to have been living under a rock the last month not to see the conversation has changed on guns in schools," he said. "And the high school and college students have made a huge impact."

Tweets from statehouse reporter Peter Hancock

Comments

Richard Heckler 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Meet some very NRA type legislation which indicates too many Kansas legislators are not listening to the constituents.

BILL TO ARM TEACHERS INTRODUCED IN HOUSE

A bill (HB 2789) has been introduced in the House that would allow school district to have some teachers and staff members carry concealed weapons and to penalize school districts who do not do so.

There will be a hearing on this bill before the House Insurance Committee on Tuesday, March 27, at 8:00 am in Room 281-N at the Capitol.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions about this bill. I can be reached by phone at the Statehouse at 785-296-7122, by email at Boog.Highberger@house.ks.gov or by mail at the Statehouse, Rm. 174-W, Topeka, KS 66612.

Barbara Johnston 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Dear Congressman Highberger:

The idea of having guns in schools and classrooms whether in the hands of students, teachers, or administration is beyond absurd in my mind. Knowing that the film-maker, Kevin Wilmot, wears a bullet-proof vest for protection in classes he teaches at KU, demonstrates the insanity of allowing weapons of any kind in schools whether undergraduate or postgraduate. Please relay to your colleagues that many constituents are extremely opposed to HB 2789. I hope that the bill dies a quick death, never to raise its ghastly head again.

Barbara Johnston
Baldwin City

Bob Summers 1 month, 3 weeks ago

For heavens sake. Do NOT arm Liberal people around children.

The madness must stop!

Dehumanizing children must stop!

Cary Ediger 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Why would I waste money on a gun when I can buy craft beer instead ?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Do you stay awake at night realizing that many liberals have guns, and they are actually trained to use them? Education? You don't need no stinkin' education, do you? Conservatives were born knowing all about guns.

Brock Masters 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Armed professional security at schools - not teachers.

Carrying a firearm requires a duty to ensure it is in your control at all times and in a manner that prevents children from gaining access. Sure, a teacher can do it, but it imposes a heavy burden on them. Let them teach and let armed security protect the children.

Daniel Kennamore 1 month, 3 weeks ago

You sure you didn't mean Armalite professional security?

Maybe we should talk for pages about the difference between the two, since that's your usual 'contribution' to the discussion.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I believe every school should have trained school resource officers (SRO). A trained peace officer with the intestinal fortitude to do their job forthwith. If there is a shortage of active officers, we have many retired peace officers and retired vets who could do the job. Protecting our children should be our top priority.

Andrew Dufour 1 month, 3 weeks ago

For what it's worth I don't think we should have SRO's in schools either. Since their inception an SRO has not stopped a single mass shooting in a school but of disciplinary actions that would normally be handled via the school administration are now being referred to police for arrests. This phenomenon unsurprisingly affects minority students to a much greater degree.

John Middleton 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Aw, Tracy... There you go with the facts again... You're not supposed to do that.

Daniel Kennamore 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I see the gun nuts are doubling down on bad policy.

Keep on shouting that more guns will solve the problem...most of us are not buying it anymore and all it does is expose them as a loony.

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