Lawmakers in the Kansas House failed to force a debate on the state’s gun policies Tuesday morning.
The House voted 44-81 on a procedural move by House Minority Leader Jim Ward, D-Wichita, to bring a gun bill to the House floor for debate.
If that had gotten 63 votes, it would have allowed lawmakers to suggest a variety of amendments related to firearms. Some saw the move as an opportunity to vote on barring guns from college campuses and hospitals.
State universities, community colleges and public hospitals are exempted from a 2013 law passed by Kansas lawmakers to open many public building to firearms. But that exemption expires this year.
Starting July 1, those facilites must allow concealed carry on their premises or provide adequate security through measures like metal detectors.
Legislative efforts to continue the exemption for universities, colleges and specific hospitals have stalled this session. Those efforts have been spearheaded by Democrats and some moderate Republicans.
But the Tuesday vote fell largely on party lines. Only four Republicans voted for Ward’s motion: Shelee Brim of Shawnee, Stephanie Clayton of Overland Park, Melissa Rooker of Fairway and Tom Sloan of Lawrence.
Majority leader Don Hineman, R-Dighton, said work is proceeding on a “fairly narrow” solution that could tweak the expiring exemptions. He said a “wide-open” floor debate would have led to “endless possibilities” of amendments.
“It’s a reflection of their desire to see the process…of negotiations,” Hineman said of the vote.
Ward criticized Republicans for being concerned about “their NRA rating more than the people in their district.”
“There’s a lot of people in Kansas concerned about gun safety,” he said.
He said the effort was not over. The underlying bill remains in the House. HB 2042 deals with Kansas recognizing concealed carry permits from other states.
“We can use that bill any time,” Ward said. “There’s many tools in our tool box.”