TOPEKA, Kan. — People as young as 18 would be allowed to carry concealed weapons under a bill that won final passage Wednesday in the House.
The 83-41 vote sends the bill to the Senate for approval. Opponents argued that the measure could endanger lives, but backers say it’s about having protection when the unexpected happens, The Wichita Eagle reports.
“We’re not training people to go into combat and to kill people,” said Rep. Stephen Owens, R-Hesston, when the bill was debated Tuesday. “We are training people for self-defense.”
Kansas has what is called constitutional carry, or the right to carry a firearm in any capacity, for residents 21 and older. A concealed carry license, available to those who complete required training, allows the holder to carry in states that have reciprocal agreements with Kansas.
Under the new law, the minimum age for concealed carry training would drop to 18. Residents who don’t receive a license at 18 would still be allowed constitutional carry in the state at age 21.
Several lawmakers expressed concern, noting that the debate comes less than a month after bullets were fired at an elementary school in the Kansas City suburb of Missouri. Police later wounded a man across the street from the school as parents picked up their children. Rep. Jerry Stogsdill, D-of nearby Prairie Village, proposed an amendment limiting licensees to carrying 10 rounds of ammunition, saying it could reduce injury or death in the event of a shooting.
“Those few seconds can be the difference between life and death for an elementary school student, teacher or law enforcement officer,” Stogsdill said.
The amendment was found unrelated to the bill and was rejected.
Other opponents said they worried about weapons on college campuses. Until 2017, Kansas universities were exempt from a 2013 law allowing the carry of concealed weapons in public buildings. Democratic lawmakers staunchly opposed the law when it passed, and have been trying to repeal it ever since.
Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence used Tuesday’s debate to reopen the issue, offering an amendment prohibiting concealed carry on state campuses. But the amendment failed by a vote of 43 to 75.
“I knew that the amendment to lower the concealed carry age was coming. I was still highly disappointed that it passed,” said Rep. Stephanie Clayton, D-Overland Park.