Kansas is poised to join a handful of other states that allow their residents to carry concealed firearms without a permit after the Legislature gave final approval Wednesday to a bill backed by the National Rifle Association.
SB 45 was headed to Gov. Sam Brownback despite some lawmakers’ misgivings about the state dropping its requirement that anyone seeking to carry a concealed firearm undergo at least eight hours of training.
Brownback’s office did not say what he planned to do, but he has signed every other major gun-rights measure sent to him since taking office in January 2011.
Kansas would become the fifth state to allow concealed carry without a permit everywhere within its borders, according to the NRA.
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“Carrying a gun is a lifestyle,” said Rep. Travis Couture-Lovelady, R-Palco. “The government should trust its citizens.”
The House approved the bill Wednesday on an 85-39 vote. The Senate passed it last month, but a House committee made a technical change that senators had to review. The Senate signed off, 31-8, about two hours after the House vote.
The House also approved, 100-24, a bill prohibiting cities and counties from imposing special fees and taxes on guns or gun sales. It would follow up on a law last year aimed at nullifying local restrictions and goes to the Senate.
All states allow some form of concealed carry, but the NRA says only Alaska, Arizona, Vermont and Wyoming allow it everywhere in the state without a permit, although Montana allows it without a permit outside of cities, which is most of the state. In West Virginia, lawmakers passed a permitless bill, but Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed it.
The Republican-dominated Kansas Legislature has strong gun-rights majorities in both chambers, and Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce, R-Hutchinson, was the bill’s leading sponsor. The NRA joined the Kansas State Rifle Association in pushing for it, while the state chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence sought to block it.
Kansas enacted its concealed-carry law in 2006, and about 87,000 people 21 or older hold valid permits. A person seeking a permit must pay $132.50 in fees besides undergoing the eight hours of firearms training.
State law has long allowed people to carry firearms openly without requiring training, and backers of the bill said gun owners have shown they are responsible with their firearms.
“Kansans already have two documents granting them the right to concealed carry – the Constitution of the United States and the Kansas Constitution,” Couture-Lovelady said. “That should be all they need.”
Even if the bill is enacted, the state would continue to issue permits so that its residents could carry concealed in other states recognizing the Kansas permit.
But even some gun-rights supporters said they were nervous about no longer requiring training for everyone who wants to carry concealed. House Minority Leader Tom Burroughs, D-Kansas City, said that in continually lessening restrictions in Kansas, lawmakers are “getting caught up in extremism.”
And Rep. John Wilson, D-Lawrence, said: “I have concerns with the type of culture that we’re creating, when guns are in more places, particularly among children.”
How they voted
Editor’s note: The original version of this report neglected to note that Brandon Whipple voted for the bill.
Here’s how south-central Kansas lawmakers voted on SB 45, to allow concealed carry of guns without a permit or training. The House passed the bill 85-39 and the Senate concurred 31-8.
Republicans voting yes: All area Republicans voted yes except for Rep. Don Schroeder of Hesston, who voted no, and Sen. Carolyn McGinn of Sedgwick, who was absent.
Democrats voting no: All area Democrats voted no except for Brandon Whipple of Wichita, who voted yes, and Tom Sawyer of Wichita, who was absent.