While many states moved to tighten gun-control measures following the shooting massacres in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., and elsewhere, Kansas went in a different direction. Here in the heartland, lawmakers opted to expand the number of locations where guns are permissible.
In the words of Sen. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona: “Good Kansans with guns make all of Kansas safer.”
As such, starting on Monday, state law now allows licensed gun owners to bring concealed weapons into many governmental buildings they couldn’t previously. The law generally exempts courtrooms, law enforcement agencies, state correctional facilities, school districts and, for up to four years, colleges and universities. It also grants exemptions for six months or four years for those entities that submit paperwork indicating their plans to provide security measures.
The security measures will become key for public buildings. For those not wishing to allow weapons inside, it will be up to that governmental body to install armed guards, metal detectors or whatever else deemed adequate. Otherwise, they can’t be gun-free zones.
The Legislature did not provide any funding to install such security measures — just the demand to do so. State lawmakers also exempted the Statehouse from the law for at least a year. Apparently the grandiose upholding of the Second Amendment applies to others, not the building where legislators do their business.
One ancillary provision in the law removes the penalty for any concealed carry permit-holder who enters gun-free buildings with a gun. Another allows law enforcement officers from other states and qualified retired law enforcement officers to possess handguns within buildings where concealed carry may be prohibited. Yet another gives school districts, post-secondary educational institutions, public medical care facilities, public adult care homes, community mental health centers and indigent health care clinics permission to designate certain employees to carry a concealed weapon.
As Kansas already had concealed carry laws, nobody will really know who’s packing heat or not. What we do know is the likelihood of more weapons being present in public places has greatly increased.
We’ll see if such a law will have any effect on gun-related death rates or if we are indeed safer. For now, with the law in place, confusion runs rampant even with those in charge of securing public buildings.
Editorial by Patrick Lowry