Kansas House rejects effort to repeal concealed carry on college campuses

Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, urges her fellow House members to pass an amendment to repeal a law requiring colleges and universities to allow people to carry concealed firearms on campus on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018 at the Statehouse in Topeka. Her effort fell short on a 53-69 vote.

? The Kansas House on Thursday defeated an effort to repeal a law that mandates that public colleges and universities in the state allow people to carry concealed firearms in most facilities.

Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, offered that repeal amendment onto another gun-related bill. But her amendment failed on a 53-69 vote.

The House did, however, vote to require anyone carrying a concealed firearm on a college or university campus receive training in gun safety. That applies to students as well as faculty and staff.

But it also voted to lower the age limit for anyone to carry concealed weapons from 21 down to 18, although people younger than 21 would also be required to undergo training.

Last year, a law took effect mandating that most government-owned buildings in Kansas allow people to carry concealed firearms unless there is adequate security in the building to prevent anyone from bringing in a weapon.

During the 2017 session, just before that law took effect, lawmakers passed a measure to exempt publicly owned hospitals, nursing homes and mental health facilities from the mandate. But Thursday’s vote in the House was the first attempt by the full chamber to repeal the law for college campuses.

Ballard said the law is making it more difficult for the University of Kansas and other higher education institutions in the state to recruit new students to their campuses.

“We have students that are terrified, their parents are terrified that there are guns,” she said on the House floor. “Of course there are some that are used to guns, and they’re not worried about campus guns, but the majority of them, parents have decided that their children are not coming to our institutions because they didn’t want the guns around them.”

But opponents of the measure argued that people have a constitutional right to bear arms for self-protection.

“I did take an oath last year that I would support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Kansas,” said Rep. Leo Delperdang, R-Wichita, “and I believe the issue is clearly laid out in the U.S. Constitution.”

The underlying bill would establish reciprocity between Kansas and other states concerning concealed carry permits. It would provide that people with valid permits from other states could legally carry concealed firearms in Kansas, as long as Kansas concealed carry permits are honored in the other state.

Kansas stopped requiring permits, or training of any kind, in 2015. But some other states still require concealed carry permits, and they will honor permits from other states only if those states have reciprocity laws recognizing their permits.

In earlier debate on the reciprocity bill, Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, succeeded in adding an amendment to lower the minimum concealed carry age to 18. Later, Rep. Clay Aurand, R-Belleville, pushed through the amendment to require anyone carrying concealed weapons on campuses to receive gun safety training before they are allowed to do so.

The House voted 85-35 to advance the bill to a final action vote, which is expected Friday. If it passes, the bill would be sent to the Senate.