HB 2042 explanation of vote

This week, I voted for House Bill 2042, and I want to do two things here – one is to explain the reason for my vote, and the other is to provide some context into the process that I saw on the House floor Thursday.

So, HB2042, by itself, is a fairly innocent piece of legislation that basically says Kansas will recognize the concealed carry permits of other states. It’s right here in the bill.

AN ACT concerning firearms; relating to the personal and family protection act; relating to the recognition of licenses issued by another jurisdiction; relating to confidentiality of licensure documents; amending K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 75-7c03 and 75-7c06 and repealing the existing sections.

I would have had no problem voting for this very simple, somewhat procedural bill. But it didn’t stay simple for long.

First there was an amendment (and a clearly coordinated effort to use this bill) to lower the concealed carry permit age to 18, from the current age of 21. After some debate, that amendment passed 82-42. I voted against that amendment, and I’ll tell you why. I was 18 once. I had friends who were 18. I have had children who became teenagers, and it’s pretty well established that very few of us made awesome decisions when we were that age. We know this so well, we restrict access to alcohol under the age of 21, and it’s nearly impossible to get a rental car if you’re under the age of 25 – because people that age are huge liability risks. So huge that we have decided there are some things to which people at that age shouldn’t have unfettered access. On the floor, it was argued that if we’re willing to send 18-year-olds to fight in war, they ought to be able to carry a gun. Yet I haven’t seen anyone move to let these same soldiers drink a beer when they’re home. It was also pointed out that 18-year-olds sent to war are highly trained in the use of their weapons, while the average college student most likely is not.

Then there was an amendment to allow the state’s universities to be exempt from concealed carry legislation that was passed in previous legislatures. As it stands now, the state’s colleges must allow concealed carry on their campuses, under state law. This amendment would allow each university and community college to decide locally how to handle the issue. While there’s evidence that the students and staff at KU overwhelmingly oppose campus carry, the same might not be said of students and staff at Fort Hays or Dodge City. I tilt toward local control whenever possible, and this, to me, was a clear example of that. It didn’t ban campus carry; it simply allowed the local people to decide how to proceed. And, if you think about it, it creates a sort of market dynamic – wherein if someone doesn’t want to be around guns they might chose a school like KU; if they like the idea of concealed carry on campus they might chose a school that has opted to allow guns on campus. I voted for this amendment, because it seemed like a reasonable compromise to the issue of campus carry. It failed in a close vote, 53-69.

There was an attempt to introduce an amendment that would have banned the use of bump stocks – which use the recoil power of a firearm to quickly and repeatedly depress the trigger – in effect allowing a semi-automatic weapon to fire off more rounds more quickly. This amendment was rejected, found to not be relevant enough to the original bill.

The last amendment said that, if we’re going to allow concealed carry on campus, we should at least require training and permitting for anyone who wants to bring a gun on campus. I voted for this amendment. I have always found it ironic that I am required to have more training and licensing to shoot a turtle dove in an open pasture (Hunter’s Safety Course, hunting license) than is required to carry a gun into a crowded shopping center, or in this case, a college campus. I thought this was a decent effort to balance the fears surrounding allowing guns on campus by requiring some training and licensing. It passed, 70-52.

So the final bill that I voted yes on, after all the amendments and changes might look something like this:

AN ACT concerning firearms; relating to the personal and family protection act; {relating to eligibility for a license;} relating to the recognition of licenses issued by another jurisdiction; relating to confidentiality of licensure documents; {relating to possession of concealed handguns in postsecondary educational institutions;} amending K.S.A. 2016 {2017} Supp. {21-6302,} {21-6302,} 75-7c03 and{, 75-7c04,}{, 75-7c04} 75-7c06 and {75-7c20 and} repealing the existing sections.

Basically, what began as a very simple idea – would we recognize concealed carry permits from other states- turned into a debate about campus concealed carry. Quite a different issue altogether.

I ultimately voted for HB2042. Right now students over the age of 21 can carry weapons on campus, with no restrictions whatsoever. The bill passed this week lowers the concealed carry age to 18, but it also requires some training for those who want to carry on campus, which I view as an improvement on current law.  

While I enjoyed the process of debate, and the process of moving legislation from one point to another, it felt to me like there was a cleaner, more transparent way to advance this legislation. Off the cuff, one improvement would be to see more bills get healthy debate in committee. As it is now, the leadership has unilateral authority to limit debate on bills, both in committees and in the House. That creates an environment in which bill amendments become the only path for debate and inclusion of a wider array of ideas. My preference would be to see clean votes on each issue, but that’s not exactly how the process works.

I have no doubt some of these votes will end up on some political post cards this year saying that so-and-so hates guns and freedoms because they voted for restrictions to concealed carry, when they really voted to lower the age. Conversely, on the other side of the political spectrum, the vote could be used to argue that so-and-so voted to lower the age for concealed carry when what they really might have supported was the licensing provision for campuses. From a purely political perspective, there are no clear winners. One group of people had to swallow hard and vote to require permits on campus to get the age down to 18; another group of people had to swallow hard and vote to allow the age to drop to 18 to get a training and permit requirement for colleges. The bill passed final action 76-44.

That, I think, is what we’re calling compromise.

15 Comments

  • Posted February 2, 2018
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    Lou

    I don’t agree with age 18.
    I do believe ALL concealed carry permits should require training. I am disappointed the training was not in the original bill. Training to use a gun properly is a no brainer as far as I am concerned.

  • Posted February 2, 2018
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    Betty Stevens

    Thanks, Jason. It’s good to know that some legislators actually think carefully before voting. (And those birds in the field are Mourning Doves, not Turtle Doves, unless you want to shoot the ones sitting on top of the buildings downtown.)

  • Posted February 2, 2018
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    Alice Mills

    Thanks – I would like to just ban all guns except fo those necessary to law enforcement, military or in legal hunting.

  • Posted February 2, 2018
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    Kathie

    No clear winners? There were clear losers: the children and young adults in high school and college who now understand that no place on campus is safe from guns.

  • Posted February 2, 2018
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    Stephen Smalley

    When the ball is not in your court, so to speak, it can be dangerous and perhaps not wise to play into the other’s game plan. If you had home field advantage then I can see having confidence that the momentum is more likely than not going to be in your favor and so allowing the other team an advantage is not going to burn you in the end.
    In other words, you might be taking a pretty big gamble by voting for something you don’t want just because there is a provision attached to it that you like when chances are that the provision you like and that passed will probably come under attack sooner than later and then what will be the end result? So from what you call a purely political point of view perhaps it is not quite as evenly split as you might think. My two cents worth. Thanks for giving us an inside view of the complexity of the decisions you have to make as a citizen legislator. Invaluable. It is easy for me to criticize because I am not the one in the hot seat. 🙂

  • Posted February 2, 2018
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    Lydia Rostine

    Thank you for the information.
    Believe also in your clean vote statement.

  • Posted February 2, 2018
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    Shirley Faulkner

    I don’t believe anyone regardless of age should have the right to carry without appropriate training and a license to do so. It doesn’t make sense to me that driving a vehicle requires much more than having access to weapons and having that access in areas where public safety is at risk.

  • Posted February 3, 2018
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    Gary Withrow

    If I had my way we would do away with all guns except law enforcement and sporting. Between 18 and 21 years of age I don’t find a lot of difference. I think training would help emensley. I would hope for a change from the radical right

  • Posted February 3, 2018
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    Vic Moser

    I would like to know who proposed the amendments to the bill.

    • Posted February 5, 2018
      Jason

      Jason

      Rep. Landwehr brought the amendment to lower the age to 18, Rep. Ballard brought the amendment to carve out exemptions for colleges, and Rep. Aurand brought the amendment to require training to carry on campus. You can read it in full here: http://kslegislature.org/li/b2017_18/measures/hb2042/

  • Posted February 3, 2018
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    Glenn Owen

    The frontal lobe of the brain called the prefrontal cortex does not fully develop until age 25 or 26. This is the area of the brain that is decision making and social behavior. Sticking with age 21 would be better. There are students still in high school at the age of 18 and even 19 for many reasons. You had the right idea not allowing an 18 year old to have a gun.

  • Posted February 3, 2018
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    Ruby Kay Lee

    Gun training is absolutely necessary! Thanks for sharing the above.

  • Posted February 4, 2018
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    Richard Kramer

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary for security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Obviously you have no idea what that means. “Well regulated” by our Founders and Framers measure was the people, even the young possessing arms and understanding their use. How are you protecting that inherent natural unalienable right? That is your job! Your job is not about how you or anyone else “feels”! Your job is to protect and defend the rights of the people!

    • Posted February 9, 2018
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      Stephen Smalley

      Are you a Russian agent hiding behind the cloak of American patriotism?

  • Posted February 8, 2018
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    Peg Stephens

    Too bad that amendments taint perfectly reasonable acts, but, as you say, that’s the process.

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