Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback let a bill become law Thursday that will prohibit the carrying of guns into state hospitals.
The legislation will essentially allow the University of Kansas Health System, state mental hospitals, some community health centers and state adult care facilities to continue banning guns on their premises.
If the bill was vetoed, state hospitals would have had to either install metal detectors and post security guards at entrances or allow lawful gun owners to carry firearms into their buildings starting July 1.
In a statement regarding the bill’s enactment, Brownback noted he had tried to forge a compromise that would have been more favorable toward gun rights advocates, but that ultimately was rejected by representatives of the health care facilities.
“Nevertheless, this bill does appropriately address safety concerns at state mental health hospitals,” Brownback said. “As a result, I will permit House Bill 2278 to become law without my signature.”
Gun control group Moms Demand Action cheered the bill’s enactment, saying the legislation was aimed to protect the public’s safety.
“Kansas hospitals and mental health centers can now continue to focus on treating their patients without having to address new and unnecessary safety risks,” said Jo Ella Hoye, a volunteer with the Kansas chapter. “We applaud all of the legislators from both parties who stood up to the gun lobby to protect public safety, and we encourage them to continue their efforts to prevent gun violence in Kansas.”
The National Rifle Association, which largely condemned the bill, had offered up a proposal presented by Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, that would have allowed concealed firearms in the facilities as long as the guns were stored in secure rooms or lockers before entering restricted areas. That proposal was also shot down.
The measure was passed in the House on a 91-33 vote, while the Senate concurred on a 24-16 vote. The enacted bill will now take effect immediately.