Kansas Hospitals Lose Concealed Carry Debate

We’ve written a few times about changing gun laws in Kansas over the past year. Back in August 2016 we reported that Kansas Public Workers Could Now Carry Concealed, and in December 2016 we reported how Kansas officials couldn’t figure out how to pay for metal detectors that were supposed to be in effect in public buildings where concealed carry was now allowed. In October 2016 we wrote about how Kansas Universities Must Allow Concealed Carry, even though they didn’t want to. Finally, in April 2017, we reported that Kansas’s Washburn University regents had approved concealed carry on their campus. Now what’s going on?

This new issue stems back from the post about how they couldn’t figure out how to pay for the security that they had voted in for the new gun laws. In Kansas, the “Personal and Family Protection Act” passed in 2013. The Personal and Family Protection Act allows concealed weapons in public buildings that don’t contain metal detectors and guards. While things were being worked out, the law allowed cities to deny concealed carry for a maximum of four years while they worked on compliance. Money to buy metal detectors and pay for increased security was entered into the budget and then removed when Kansas lawmakers decided they couldn’t afford it. That four-year-deadline allowing for delay has now passed.

Last week, Kansas lawmakers debated whether or not they should approve the security upgrades for hospitals and mental institutions. The whole law is sort of backwards. According to the existing state law, universities, hospitals, mental health centers, some nursing homes and some other public facilities must allow concealed weapons in their buildings starting in July, unless they have “adequate” security such as guards or metal detectors. If they have security, they don’t have to allow the guns. The law is meant to allow concealed carry guns into buildings where there is no security present, so that responsible gun owners can protect themselves from threats. The lawmakers scrambled to put in security and metal detectors at public buildings so they didn’t HAVE to allow the guns into those buildings, but they couldn’t figure out how to fund it.

The debate now is focused on whether guns should be allowed in hospitals and metal health centers or not. The House voted June 1 91-33 to approve a measure to keep concealed guns out of public hospitals and mental health centers. The vote was just hours after the Senate approved the measure, 24-16. It goes next to conservative Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, who is believed to veto it.

Travis Couture-Lovelady, a National Rifle Association lobbyist, said gun-rights supporters are willing to allow the health care facilities to keep weapons out of secured areas. They are also willing to consider a badge for entry. “We’re trying to be flexible,” said Couture-Lovelady, a former Kansas House member. “What we won’t agree with is slapping a no-guns sticker on the front door and declaring it gun-free.”