Politics & Government

Kansas lawmakers pass bill allowing public employees to carry concealed guns

Public employees would be allowed to carry concealed guns under a bill passed by the Kansas Senate.
Public employees would be allowed to carry concealed guns under a bill passed by the Kansas Senate. File photo

Kansas public employees will be able to carry concealed firearms on the job if Gov. Sam Brownback signs a bill approved Sunday night by the Legislature.

The bill passed the Senate 32-6 and a few hours later sailed through the House 93-27 after a five-minute debate.

HB 2502 bundles most of the Legislature’s gun-related legislation for the session.

When House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, banged his gavel during the House debate, the bill’s carrier, Rep. Jan Pauls, R-Hutchinson, joked that perhaps gunfire would be more appropriate

The bill says public employers, such as cities and counties, cannot forbid employees from carrying concealed weapons while on duty. Public employers should not have the power to endanger their employees by restricting them from carrying a firearm for protection, Sen. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona, said during the Senate debate.

Current law allows public employees to carry concealed firearms at work. This bill will allow them to continue to carry those weapons when they travel into the community in their duties.

That means a city code inspector can come to your home carrying a concealed weapon, Rep. Annie Tietze, D-Topeka, warned during the House debate. The only way to prevent a municipal employee carrying a gun from coming onto your property would be to post a “no gun” sign similar to the one that many businesses in Kansas have posted.

She called this unpractical and dangerous.

The bill exempts school districts from this requirement, but it has other requirements for them.

School districts could not prevent organizations from holding activities on school property “solely because the activities involve the possession and use of air guns.”

The legislation stems from a controversy in the Derby school district. The Derby BB Club had used Oaklawn Elementary School’s campus for shooting clubs for 30 years. Last year, the district’s school board cited safety concerns in voting 4-3 against allowing the group to continue using the campus.

The bill will require school districts to open their campuses to air gun clubs. It prevents them from adopting policies to prohibit students bringing air guns to school property if they are participating in a club’s activities.

Bryan Lowry: 785-296-3006, @BryanLowry3