A well-reasoned approach to gun safety in an urban hospital setting could yet prevail in Kansas.
There’s still time on the clock, despite recent developments. Last week, efforts to allow the University of Kansas Health System to prohibit concealed guns from its premises stalled in a tie committee vote.
It was a disappointing outcome, but this should not be the end of the road for the proposal.
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Efforts are underway to introduce identical language in the Senate. Credit goes to Sen. Pat Pettey, a Democrat from Kansas City, Kan., who requested Monday that the Ways and Means Committee take up the measure.
House Bill 2150 would have exempted the health system from a 2013 Kansas law that goes into effect in July and will allow concealed weapons in all public buildings. The only way to avoid compliance is to meet a wholly unrealistic requirement: sealing the more than 100 entrances and exits with metal detectors and armed guards.
The security and comfort of patients, doctors, students, nurses and all who use the wide range of services at the health campus should be the foremost consideration.
The health system’s leadership has wisely avoided igniting a debate on the Second Amendment. They merely want to continue ensuring the safety of their staff and patients as they long have, by relying on the commissioned police officers and trained security guards who patrol the grounds of the University of Kansas Health System. Those police officers have an average response time of 90 seconds, an impressive record that should be afforded some consideration.
But after two days of testimony last week, the House bill hit a roadblock when the House Federal and State Affairs committee deadlocked with an 11-11 tie. Chairman Rep. John Barker, a Republican from Abilene, declined to cast what would have been the deciding vote.
This issue is too important to let one legislator’s unwillingness to act torpedo the bill’s prospects.
It’s one thing when a bill fails outright, with a majority of lawmakers voting against sending the proposal to the House floor. But it’s quite another when a bill hits a dead end because one committee member — the chairman no less — refuses to cast a vote.
Now, committed advocates of this common-sense measure need to rally allies and redouble their efforts to pass this proposal.
Leaders at the hospital, its teaching schools and its police force oppose allowing concealed weapons into the many buildings where people work and patients are treated. And on this critical issue, their view should prevail.