Kansas Lawmakers Buck Governor, Override Veto Of Carry Bill

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

Eighteen-year olds will be able to lawfully carry a firearm in the state of Kansas, after the state legislature overrode Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of the proposal on Monday.

Kelly, a Democrat governor in a state with a Republican supermajority in the legislature, rejected the bill because what she claimed were concerns over young college students lawfully carrying on campus. Republicans scoffed at Kelly’s argument and quickly undid the veto in a session that also saw the GOP majority in the House and Senate override Kelly’s veto of several other legislative items.

After less than five minutes of debate, House Republicans pieced together the 84 votes needed to override Kelly’s veto of House Bill 2058, which allows persons 18, 19 and 20 to get a concealed carry permit.

The bill also makes it easier in some cases for felons convicted of violent crimes to reacquire their rights to possess and carry firearms.

The override later passed 31-8 in the Senate, where the outcome was never in doubt.

Although she proclaims herself a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, Kelly cited on-campus carry at state colleges and universities as her primary reason for rejecting HB2058.

“We can respect and defend the rights of Kansas gun owners while also taking effective steps to keep our children and families safe,” she said in her veto message “Legislation that allows more guns on campus is neither safe nor effective, and it will drive prospective students away from our schools.”

We heard Democrats say the same thing when campus carry took effect a few years ago, but there’s virtually no evidence that the carry laws in Kansas are causing students to stay away.

Adults 18 and older can already openly carry a firearm in the state without a license, though that doesn’t apply on college campuses. Now those young adults will be able to lawfully in the same places where gun owners over the age of 21 have already had that right.

The bill was originally sent to Kelly’s desk last month on an 80-43 House vote, four votes short of veto-proof.

Three representatives — Dave Baker of Council Grove, Mike Dodson of Manhattan and Chuck Smith of Pittsburg — changed sides. All are Republicans.

A fourth Republican, Rep. Ron Howard of Wichita, missed the first vote due to health reasons but voted for the veto override. That gave the Republicans the exact margin they needed.

Rep. Louis Ruiz, a Kansas City Democrat, was the only voice raised against the veto override. He said young people “right out of high school” may not have the maturity and judgment to carry weapons responsibly, even with training.

“You may say in the military, they can join at 18, which is true,” Ruiz said. “The culture in the military is firearms, they respect the firearms. A lot of times I’ve seen things happening, especially in the inner city . . . where people who carry, especially young people who carry firearms, want to gain respect by carrying firearms instead of respecting the firearms.”

If that’s already happening, then recognizing the right of responsible gun owners to carry starting at 18-years of age isn’t going to change what young criminals are doing.

On the other hand, allowing 18, 19, and 20-year olds to go through the training to receive a concealed carry license may teach some of those folks respect for firearms. Rather than objecting to the bill, Ruiz should be glad to see the expanded opportunities for training and education.

That’s not how anti-gun politicians operate, however. Every pro-gun bill is an opportunity to scream that the sky is falling and the gun apocalypse is upon us, and by the time their predictions fail to come true, they’ve already moved on to freaking out about the latest piece of pro-2A legislation that’s been introduced in the statehouse.

This new law isn’t going to lead to the “Wild, Wild, West,” but it will hopefully lead to more young adults obtaining their concealed carry license and legally exercising their Second Amendment rights.

Jun 20, 2021 11:30 AM ET