TOPEKA — Lawmakers heard renewed debate on a bill to allow people to carry guns into public buildings.
HB 2055, originally introduced during the 2011 legislative session, seeks to add provisions to existing concealed carry law. It would allow people with a concealed carry license to take their guns into public buildings that do not provide adequate security measures and would ensure that state or municipal employees would not be prohibited from licensed carry in workplaces.
Adequate security measures would include the use of electronic equipment such as metal detectors and people at public entrances to detect and restrict the carrying of weapons into the facility.
Proponents of the bill say that if buildings do not have adequate safety measures, citizens will not be properly protected if they are forbidden to conceal and carry a weapon.
“There are only two answers,” said Sen. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona. “Either the authority there takes responsibility and provides security for people’s safety in that building, or they allow law-abiding citizens to conceal.”
Opponents, including law enforcement officers, say they have concerns regarding local control.
“We believe it is critical that the city of Overland Park should be able to decide at the local level in which public buildings or facilities concealed or open carry may be permitted,” said John Douglas, Overland Park chief of police.
Wichita and Sedgwick County already allow concealed carry inside many public buildings.
Chris Mechler, court services specialist for the Office of Judicial Administration, said that of the 110 statewide courthouses, only 12 have what might qualify as “adequate safety measures” defined in the bill.
“While I would like to see every courthouse secured with adequate measures, I believe introducing concealed carry into our courthouses raises the risk to employees and to the public,” Mechler said.
The bill is expected to pass in the Republican House.