Visitors to the Kansas Statehouse now can bring concealed guns into the historic building without a state permit.
The new law took effect July 1 and ended a requirement for residents 21 and older to obtain a state permit to carry a concealed firearm, The Wichita Eagle reported. The state last year began allowing people to carry concealed guns into the Statehouse if they had a permit.
Ending the permit requirement means people don’t have to undergo a background check or complete eight hours of firearms training to carry a concealed gun. Kansas is among a handful of states without such restrictions.
Supporters of the new law said Kansas residents should be able to exercise their constitutionally protected right to own and carry guns in the Statehouse, which houses the Legislature and the governor’s office and is a popular destination for families and school field trips.
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Rep. Travis Couture-Lovelady, a Palco Republican, noted that legislators can enter the building without being screened by security officers and said it would be hypocritical for them to block others from carrying concealed inside.
“There’s a lot of legislators that are carrying, I’m sure. And there’s a lot of lobbyists that carry every day,” he said. “And a lot of them are pretty good dang shots, so I feel pretty good about that.”
Couture-Lovelady also said the new law will make the building safer. He said metal detectors would not stop an assailant intent on a mass shooting.
Rep. Stephanie Clayton, an Overland Park Republican, said she doesn’t fear for her own safety but worries that the new law makes the building more dangerous for visiting children. She said her chief concern is that the change increases the risk of a gun going off by accident.
“I feel like it’s a less safe for the public,” she said. “There’s a different view where as a lawmaker I accept that risk where as a member of the public, do they really need to accept that?”