Thursday, Mar. 14, 2013
Kansas House approves 3 gun rights measures
By JOHN MILBURN
The Associated Press
TOPEKA A proposal to let school districts and state colleges designate employees who can carry concealed weapons, and another to expand the number of public buildings where concealed weapons are permitted, passed the Kansas House with broad support Thursday.
Another measure declaring that the federal government cannot regulate firearms manufactured, sold and kept in Kansas also was approved, though lawmakers readily acknowledged such a law would be challenged as an unconstitutional challenge to the supremacy of federal law.
All three measures now head to the Senate, though a top leader there said it was unclear how quickly the bills would be debated.
The schools districts and state colleges proposal would allow the institutions to choose employees who could carry concealed firearms inside their buildings, even if such weapons were banned for others. The bill was approved 84-35.
Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce, a Hutchinson Republican, said some senators are “very apprehensive” about language in that bill. But he noted the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee was reviewing gun-rights measures and pledged the chamber would give them serious consideration.
“That’s going to be hard,” Bruce said. “They’ve by far gotten more gun bills and parts of gun bills discussed in (the House).”
The proposal to expand the number of public buildings where people with a state permit could bring concealed weapons includes the Statehouse. However, Rep. John Wilson, a Lawrence Democrat who got the Statehouse amendment on the bill, said a drafting error inadvertently allowed open carry of weapons in the building. The error is likely to be corrected by a Senate committee, or eliminated entirely.
“This is not an insignificant mistake,” Wilson said in explaining his ultimate vote against the bill.
Supporters of the measure to disallow federal regulation of Kansas firearms, which was approved 94-29, pushed the proposal over concerns that federal authorities would move to confiscate firearms in a move to increase regulations following December's mass school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
However, even Rep. Lance Kinzer, a backer of the measure, suggested the law may face court challenges under the federal supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Olathe Republican said legislators may not be able to deliver on their promise to constituents to take a stand against Congress or the administration on similar issues, including health care.
“I would hope we would be very cautious in what we say we can deliver,” Kinzer said.
Frontenac Democrat Rep. Bob Grant suggested the real motive for the bill was not to protect gun rights but to use any votes against the measure against lawmakers in future elections.
“This bill is not constitutional. You can’t trump federal law. Let the postcards come. I vote no,” Grant said.
Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, a gun rights supporter, said he had not reviewed any of the three bills and wouldn't speculate if he would sign them.