Kansas Legislature passes bill to ban guns at public hospitals

Lawmakers in the Kansas Legislature have passed a bill that would allow public state hospitals to ban guns at their facilities.

The Kansas City Star reported the measure, House Bill 2278, was passed Thursday on a 24-16 vote in the Senate and a 91-33 vote in the House, sending the bill to Gov. Sam Brownback for consideration.

Brownback has not indicated what action he plans to take on the bill. The governor can sign, veto or simply let the measure become law without his signature.

If the legislation does not become law, state hospitals will either have to install metal detectors and post security guards at entrances or allow people with concealed carry permits to carry firearms into the buildings starting July 1.

Supporters of the bill, such as Republican Sen. Barbara Bollier, argued patients were the number one reason she voted for the measure.

“It’s the safest thing for patients,” said Bollier. “Which should always be what our number one priority is.”

Republican Rep. John Barker said he supported the bill even as an avid firearms owner.

“If you’re going for therapy at a mental health center, I don’t think you should carry a gun,” Barker said.

Opponents of the measure argued those legally carrying guns should be able to protect themselves in hospitals if an active shooter situation should occur.

“I hope that the day does not come when we turn on our television set or our radio and we hear of a shooting at one of these hospitals,” said Republican Rep. Randy Garber.

While the Kansas University Health System pushed hard for the bill, the National Rifle Association tried to limit the legislation’s scope with an amendment that would have allowed lawful gun owners to carry firearms in the parking lots and reception areas of state psychiatric hospitals, community mental health centers and KU Health.

“The NRA believes that people who might do harm don’t look at a sign and follow it,” Senate President Susan Wagle said. “They say when you walk into a facility and the good guy is turning over his gun, they want adequate security there to protect the good guy.”

The amendment ultimately failed on a 16-24 vote.