The state Senate on Tuesday easily advanced a measure to expand gun carrying in the state by prohibiting cities and counties from passing their own weapons regulations and neutralizing any local laws already on the books.
Senate Bill 447 expands on a law that the Legislature passed last year to extend the right of permit holders to carry their concealed weapons into local government buildings and state college campuses.
At present, those agencies have four years to either allow guns in their premises or implement metal detectors and security guards to screen everyone for weapons.
The new bill nullifies any effort by local agencies “governing the purchase, transfer, ownership, storage, carrying, or transporting of firearms, ammunition, or any related component,” according to the bill summary.
The bill would establish statewide rules and eliminate a “patchwork” of local regulations that make it difficult for permit holders to know where gun carrying is legal or illegal, said Sen. Clark Shultz, R-McPherson, who carried the bill on the floor.
The bill also would prohibit local governments from asking their employees to disclose if they have permits to carry concealed weapons, and it prohibits any job discrimination against public employees who do.
Shultz said cities and counties would retain the right to prohibit employees from carrying weapons during their work hours.
The Senate passed the bill after shooting down an amendment by Sen. Pat Pettey, D-Kansas City, that would have allowed local governments to regulate weapons carrying in public libraries, community centers and mental-health centers.
Pettey argued that the decision of whether to allow weapons in such facilities should be left up to local communities.
Libraries especially are community gathering places, serving patrons from birth to death, she said.
“Not unlike schools, they (librarians) don’t think lethal weapons should be allowed in that environment,” she said.
Supporters of the bill argued that any local bans on weapons inside community buildings would be ignored by criminals.
“The fact that law-abiding citizens can carry weapons increases safety for everyone,” said Sen. Greg Smith, R-Overland Park.
The measure moved forward on an overwhelming voice vote and is scheduled for a formal roll call on Wednesday.
A similar bill has been under consideration by the House. It passed out of committee but has not been brought to a floor vote by leadership.