Bill to ban guns from some state hospitals sputters in Kansas Senate

A bill that would ban guns from some state hospitals was debated and then sent back to committee in the Kansas Senate Tuesday.

The Wichita Eagle reported lawmakers had amended the measure, House Bill 2278, to allow concealed carry permit holders to carry firearms into hospitals and prohibit psychiatric patients from possessing them.

Instead of voting upon the amended version of the bill, lawmakers chose to send it back to the Senate’s budget committee to try and reach a comprise.

Unless the Kansas Legislature passes the bill and Gov. Sam Brownback signs it into law, public hospitals, state psychiatric hospitals, and college campuses will have to allow guns starting on July 1, unless those facilities install metal detectors and post security guards at entrances.

At the time of sending the bill back to committee, senators were reportedly debating another proposed amendment that would have allowed Wichita State University, the University of Kansas and Kansas State University to continue prohibiting guns after July 1.

Republican Sen. Carolyn McGinn, who chairs the committee, said the committee could meet as soon as Wednesday if lawmakers reach a compromise.

“We have a great deal of people that define the Second Amendment as having the ability to take guns anywhere, even in our mental health hospitals,” McGinn said, when asked about the disagreement.

Gun rights advocates, such as Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, criticized the lawmakers for trying obstruct Second Amendment progress.

“Outrageous that senators are working to undermine some of the crucial progress we’ve made on Second Amendment issues over the past decade,” Kobach tweeted.

“Senators want to give additional hospitals, agencies, and universities new blanket exemptions from their duty to defend you,” Kobach continued. “Entities have a duty to defend you when they prevent you from defending yourself. A sticker on the door protects no one.”

The National Rifle Association has strongly condemned the measure, arguing the bill is a “solution in search of a problem, and it places an arbitrary boundary on your right to self-defense.”

In April, Brownback asked for over $24 million in a proposed budget to install extra security measures and hire guards at state psychiatric hospitals, so that the facilities could prohibit firearms.

That proposal has also not been approved, with lawmakers frustrated Brownback did not seek funding until last month. At this late date, lawmakers say it would be nearly impossible to hire and train security guards by July 1.