In his first address to the joint Kansas Legislature, newly-appointed Gov. Jeff Colyer outlined proposals to increase government transparency and offered insight into the issues faced by lawmakers. However, Colyer’s stance on gun rights for college campuses remains unclear to many Kansas lawmakers.
In 2015, then-governor Sam Brownback signed a “constitutional carry” bill into law, allowing Kansas citizens 21 years of age or older to carry concealed firearms with no permits or training classes required.
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According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, members of the Kansas House of Representatives and the Kansas Senate who supported the 2015 “constitutional carry” bill were critical of Kansas’ original system requiring would-be concealed carriers to pass a training course, exhibit firearm proficiency and file a registration form with the attorney general’s office.
On Feb. 1, 2018, the House approved an additional bill allowing 18-year-olds with a state permit to carry concealed firearms on college campuses. According to the Lawrence Journal-World, Colyer’s comments on the bill were brief, saying he will review whatever lawmakers choose to pass.
“I’m a Second Amendment guy,” Colyer said during a news conference Feb. 1. “It’s a basic, fundamental right for us.”
The governor’s office has not issued any further comment on the topic or presented any potential changes to the campus concealed carry bill, which is currently awaiting the Senate’s approval.
Local lawmakers met Feb. 3 at the Sunset Zoo in Manhattan to discuss issues faced by the state legislature in the wake of Brownback’s resignation from the governor’s office, including concealed carry rights and gun safety on college campuses.
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According to the Manhattan Mercury, lawmakers cautioned attendees that the bill requiring permits for concealed carry on campuses is likely to change before being finalized, although they are unsure of what might change under Colyer’s leadership.
Several Kansas legislators have commented on the concealed carry issue.
Rep. Susie Swanson, R-Clay Center said that although she is not thrilled with the idea of 18-year-olds having guns, she likes the idea that anyone carrying guns on campuses would need certified training and a permit.
Rep. Tom Phillips, R-Manhattan, said the concealed carry bill would be good for campus police, as officers would have a list from the state attorney general of which students are registered to carry and which are not.
Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, said she approved of the concealed carry age minimum being lowered from 21 to 18.
“I believe that 18-year-olds, especially because they have the ability to fight for this country … should have that same right and ability to do that as everyday citizens,” Landwehr said to the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita, said this pro-military argument surrounding the concealed carry bill is misleading because non-security personnel in the U.S. Army — such as those stationed at Fort Riley and similar installations — are routinely prohibited from carrying weapons on base.
“While these serving military personnel between 18 and 21 and even older typically do not carry weapons on base, what you advocate is that they [should] be able to carry weapons in our universities and colleges that they can’t carry on base?” Carmichael said to the Topeka Capital-Journal.
The Senate will convene again on Monday at 2:30 p.m.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article included a quote from Colyer’s press conference on Feb. 1, but mistakenly identified the date as Feb. 8.