People who take concealed firearms into government buildings where they are banned couldn’t be prosecuted under a bill considered by Kansas lawmakers Wednesday.
Guards in a building could turn such a person away, but the person could not be charged with a crime unless they refused to leave. They then could be charged with disturbing the peace, but not with bringing the gun in.
HB 2074, meant to fix an oversight in an earlier law, had a hearing before the House Committee on Federal and State Affairs on Wednesday.
Rep. Annie Tietze, D-Topeka, expressed shock at the legislation. “So it is against the law to have it there, but there’s no consequences? Did I understand that right?” she said.
After her question was answered, she repeated, “So it violates (concealed carry) act, but there’s no consequences.”
Private buildings can ban firearms if they post a sign communicating that to entrants and government buildings can do the same if they meet certain security criteria.
Patricia Stoneking, president of the Kansas State Rifle Association, said lawmakers intended to decriminalize accidentally entering a building with a concealed weapon in 2013, but a quirk meant it didn’t apply to public buildings.
“Everybody thought we had passed legislation that made it not a crime to go into a public or private building with a concealed carry only to find out … that you could go into a public building that was posted and find out you could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor,” Stoneking testified.
The goal was to make sure that the law applied in the same way to public and private buildings and that gun owners are not prosecuted for accidental violations.
“We don’t believe that people will intentionally violate signs. And there’s no indication or problem out there for the last couple years that people are intentionally violating signs,” she said. “But it’s very easy to walk past a sign and not see it.”
Stoneking shared an anecdote about how she had entered a hospital with a concealed weapon – not seeing any sign forbidding it – only to find out that it was not allowed.
Rep. Steve Brunk, R-Wichita, the committee’s chair, said the bill would restore the intention lawmakers had with the previous bill “so that if you inadvertently, accidentally walk into a building, that’s a government building (with a gun), then it’s not a crime.”
“They can ask you to leave right then. Now if you don’t leave or are belligerent or want to argue that, now that’s a completely different situation,” Brunk said, explaining that other laws would apply in that case.
He also said that some government buildings are not properly posting their no gun signs and that people should not be prosecuted for mistakenly entering a building.
The bill would also eliminate a clause from a bill passed last year that added juvenile convictions to the list of reasons that could prevent someone from obtaining a concealed carry permit.
Stoneking said that many people lost their permits after last year’s bill passed. She said that most of these people – who have juvenile records but don’t have a record as an adult – are still legally able to purchase guns and carry them openly in the state. She said it did not make sense to exclude them from carrying concealed guns.
No opponents testified against the bill.