The Shawnee Mission area delegation came out strongly behind and effort to repeal the Kansas law passed in 2013 that allows college students to carry guns on campus — but the effort failed on a 69-53 vote.
Eleven of the 12 members of the House of Representatives with significant portions of their districts in the Shawnee Mission School District area voted in favor of an amendment introduced by Lawrence Democrat Barbara Ballard that would have repealed campus conceal-and-carry.
Reps. Stephanie Clayton (R), Tom Cox (R), Linda Gallagher (R), Cindy Holscher (D), Jan Kessinger (R), Nancy Lusk (D), Cindy Neighbor (D), Jarrod Ousley (D), Brett Parker (D), Melissa Rooker (R) and Jerry Stogsdill (D) all voted in favor of Ballard’s amendment on Thursday.
Rep. Randy Powell (R) voted against it.
Though the amendment that would have allowed colleges to ban students from carrying guns on campus failed, the House did advance language that would require anyone carrying a concealed weapon on a campus to undergo gun safety training.
The underlying bill lowers from 21 to 18 the age at which a person can carry a concealed weapon in Kansas, while requiring training for people who wish to carry concealed weapons.
Rep. Kessinger was the only member of the Shawnee Mission delegation to vote the final House bill. (Powell did not vote). Like Kessinger, Rep. Patty Markley, whose district includes a portion of the Blue Valley area, voted in favor of the Ballard amendment and then went on to support the final House bill. The bill will now advance to the Senate.
Though passed in 2013, the Kansas Personal and Family Protection Act provided universities a four-year exemption from being forced to allow concealed firearms on campus. That exemption expired last year, meaning students 21 and older were allowed to bring guns anywhere on campus — from dorms to classrooms — starting July 1, 2017.
Guns on campus has been a frequent topic of conversation at area reps’ public forums, with many saying they’ve heard a good deal of opposition to the law from constituents.
“You can’t have a lit candle in a dorm room, but now our students can have a gun,” Rooker said at a town hall in Prairie Village last month, indicating that there were places like chemistry labs or on-campus daycare centers where it was “self-evident” that guns should not be permitted.