Capitol Update: Rep. Hoye decries potential override to governor’s vetoed gun bill

Rep. Jo Ella Hoye, Democrat representing Kansas House District 17. File photo.

Each week, we provide Shawnee Mission area legislators the opportunity to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol. Rep. Rui Xu, Rep. Jo Ella Hoye and Sen. Dinah Sykes are scheduled to send updates this week. 

Below is the submission from Democratic State Rep. Jo Ella Hoye of Kansas House District 17: 

I am disappointed that the Kansas Legislature prioritized legislation that weakens our gun laws instead of addressing the gun violence crisis. I’ve been pushing back on efforts to allow teenagers to carry hidden, loaded guns since 2018 — year after guns on campus became effective.

This year, the failed policy is back as HB 2058, and it would put young Kansans and their families at risk.

There are extreme components of this bill that have far-reaching implications.

Lowering the age requirement to carry concealed handguns

Rolling back the age for concealed carry reduces limitations to where young Kansans can carry guns.

HB 2058 would also allow 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds with permits to carry guns on college campuses, or on the job at state and municipal employers such as parks, libraries, and swimming pools.

The measure would also impact guns in K-12 schools. Federal and state loopholes create an exception for who can carry guns in K-12 schools. For example, it wouldn’t be a crime for a 19-year-old former student with a Kansas permit to carry a concealed handgun into a K-12 school. If the school posts conspicuous signage prohibiting guns, then the individual could be trespassing, which is a civil matter.

We must also recognize the role of guns in suicide. Thankfully, according to the 2019 Kansas Annual Summary of Vital Statistics, the overall number of suicides decreased from 2018 to 2019, but the second leading cause of death of people aged 15 to 44 remains suicide.

Kansas experienced a nearly 50% increase in deaths by suicide in the 5-24 age group. In the 10-17 age group, between 2010-2018, 70 males and 12 females died by suicide with a gun in Kansas according to the Kansas State Child Death Review Board 2020 Annual Report.

Reducing the underlying felonies for the crime of criminal possession of a weapon by a convicted felon

Any felony conviction, even the most violent felonies, would generally prohibit possession of firearms by state law for less time.

For instance, convictions for terrorism or robbery would be lessened from 5 years to 3 years. Additionally, the bill changes lifetime prohibitions so that any crime committed where a firearm was in the person’s possession is only a lifetime prohibition if the gun was actually used in the crime.

This bill creates a further discrepancy between federal and state prohibitions and makes it more difficult for law enforcement to keep guns out of the hands of people with dangerous records.

Concealed Carry Reciprocity

Some states have weak permitting requirements leaving the possibility for untrained and potentially dangerous individuals from out-of-state to carry concealed handguns in Kansas. Fifteen states issue concealed carry permits to teenagers. Of those states, 10 allow certain convicted stalkers to obtain permits, 9 fail to require live-fire handgun safety training and 6 issue permits to many violent misdemeanor offenders.

I am relieved that Gov. Kelly vetoed HB 2058. It goes too far. The House did override the HB 2058 veto [on Monday], and it now awaits the Senate. It’s time for the legislature to work together to protect our communities and prevent gun violence.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours at (800) 273-8255