Update on the Gun Bills

It's been a little while since we've written an update, so we wanted to bring you up to date on the gun bills we've been tracking. There are two: HB 2145, which would limit the ability of domestic abuse violators to access firearms, and HB 2042, reciprocity of conceal carry permits across state lines.

HB 2145 has been the highest priority of gunsense groups such as Mom's Demand Action in this session. It passed out of the House unanimously and without amendments (“clean”, in the jargon). The Senate committee put a couple of amendments on it, but not enough to sink it. The Senate passed it with the amendments and the House voted not to concur – that is, not to accept the Senate's amended version. So now it goes to conference committee, which will meet next week.

HB 2042 passed out of the House with two amendments: one that would lower the conceal carry age in Kansas to 18, and another that would require anyone, of any age, wishing to conceal carry on state campuses to have training and a permit. The Senate committee stripped both of these amendments out of their version.

When it came to the floor a number of gunsense amendments were proposed, ranging from the banning of so-called “bump stocks” to enacting a “red flag” law, which would develop a legal process by which people who are found to be a danger to themselves or others could be temporarily divested of their firearms. Another amendment would have rolled back conceal carry on campuses, which as you know we've been working on for quite a while.

All of these amendments failed, typically (but not always) by votes of 19 for and 21 against, with the moderate Republicans and Democrats voting for and the conservative Republicans voting against. Clearly if, say, a red flag bill can't go through in the aftermath of Parkland, the issue is more electoral than legislative – that is, we need better legislators.

The underlying bill then passed out, but since it doesn't match the House version it will go conference committee. We are opposed to the bill but especially want to make sure that the Landwehr amendment, lowering the conceal carry age to 18, isn't put back into it.

But let it not be said that conservatives in the Kansas legislature don't want to take action on school shootings! Oh no! This week we saw introduced HB 2789 and SB 424, the so-called Kansas SAFER Act, which would set up a process by which local school boards could choose to arm teachers, and would find them negligent if they chose not to do so and there was an incident. These bills are being heard next week.

It probably goes without saying but we'll say it anyway: Kansas Interfaith Action strongly opposes any effort to arm teachers or to treat them as any part of a defense against shootings in schools. Teachers should not be, and do not want to be, in such a position. The way to deal with gun violence is to deal with guns, which means restricting them, not adding more. For God's sake: Stop! The! Insanity!

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