Elections Question: Could The New Kansas Legislature Repeal Campus Concealed Carry?

Nov 3, 2016

One outcome of the 2016 elections that we know already: the make-up of the Kansas Legislature will be different.

That raises some questions, like this one our Kansas elections coverage team got from Cynthia in Leawood:

Is it possible that Kansas will elect enough moderates to reverse the open carry gun policies in KS, especially on college campuses? Would Brownback veto such a measure?

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First, a little background on what Cynthia is asking about.

She's referring to legislation passed in 2012 that would allow, not "open carry", but would allow anyone with a Kansas concealed carry permit to carry a gun in any public building, including college buildings. Guns could be prohibited if the college (or city or county) provided metal detectors and security guards at all doors. Short of that, guns must be allowed.

This has been particularly worrisome for the KU Med Center and KU Hospital campuses in Kansas City.

Then the Legislature added a new wrinkle in 2015. It removed all licensure requirements to carry a gun. No permit required to conceal or carry in Kansas. The only requirement is that the gun holder be 21.

Lawmakers did give locals a chance to plan for concealed carry until July 1, 2017 when it would have to be implemented on all campuses and public buildings.

The idea of allowing concealed weapons on college campuses is unpopular among those who work for Kansas Board of Regents schools. A Fort Hays State University survey of faculty and staff showed 70 percent are opposed to it.

That gets us back to Cynthia's question about what will happen in the new legislative session.

A slew of conservatives in the state House and Senate lost their primary elections in August. For the sake of concealed carry, perhaps the most important Republican conservative who lost was Sen. Forrest Knox from Altoona. He was the driving force behind the loosing of gun restrictions in the state.

Moderates and Democrats will have bigger numbers in the Legislature when it reconvenes in January. And they will almost assuredly take up the issue of concealed carry on college campuses in the new session.

However, even politicians in Kansas who describe themselves as moderate or progressive often times are big fans of the Second Amendment.

Some have suggested lawmakers might just push back the deadline for a year to see how voters react. In the latest Fort Hays survey a majority opposed the law that allows concealed carry without a permit.

Gov. Sam Brownback is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. There's no telling how he might react to a rollback of concealed carry on campuses.

Sam Zeff is co-host of the political podcast Statehouse Blend and covers education for KCUR. Follow Sam on Twitter @SamZeff.

Amy Jeffries is also based at KCUR and is the editor of a statewide collaboration covering elections in Kansas. Follow Amy on Twitter @amyoverhere.

Editor's note: This story has been revised for clarity.