Campus Carry Legislative Update

The Kansas Legislature is on a three-week break so it's a good time to check in and let you know where we are with #FailCampusCarry. 

The answer, unfortunately, is: nowhere. 

As I mentioned in my previous updates, the bills we wanted either were voted down in committee (Senate) or stuck there (House). We were then looking for a bill that was roughly on the same topic (called "germane") that could be brought up on the chamber floor and amended to get what we want: a postponement of campus carry or a full repeal. There were a couple such bills, but because leadership was well aware of what we wanted to do (and the pro-gun side also had amendments, to make gun carry even easier), they kept the bills "below the line" - that is, they didn't bring them up for discussion. 

At the end of the regular session Rep. Jim Ward, the Democratic House leader, proposed a motion to bring one of the germane bills above the line. This can be done by a vote of the majority. The motion failed, however, so the discussion hasn't occurred. 

The way we understand the situation is that House leadership "knows" that a campus carry bill can't become law - even if it passes the House it would have a harder time in the Senate (fewer moderates) and the governor would almost certainly veto it. So why would they put the moderates in the House out on a limb for a controversial bill that can't become law? 

But the moderates, apparently not knowing what's good for them, wanted to have the discussion anyway. So now there was another argument: some kind of compromise was coming out of the Senate that could pass the Senate and get signed by the governor. The promise of this compromise was what House leadership used to get House moderates to vote against Ward's motion. 

Except that as far as we can see, there is no such compromise. Presumably one of the legislators who is on our side, or one of the lobbyists, would know about it, and we/they don't. There is a bill in a Senate committee to exempt hospitals only, an idea which seems to have more legs to a wider number of legislators than a campus bill, but it would still have to be debated and amended on the floor. And I also have serious doubts as to whether the NRA would agree to such a bill. My feeling is that they're just trying to run out the clock - all they need to do is nothing, and campus and hospital carry go into effect on July 1, as they wish. Pushing off the discussion on the specious promise of a compromise puts them closer to that goal. 

Some of the moderates I'm in touch with insist to me that if no "compromise" is forthcoming they will support Rep. Ward's motion to bring the previous bill above the line for discussion. That's what makes me think that there will eventually be a hospital-only bill, if only to tell the moderates "take it or leave it": if you don't support the hospital-only bill you won't get anything. 

To be clear: A hospital-only bill would sell out the campuses. We wouldn't support it. 

So that's where we are. We're hoping (and it is only a hope at this point) that the moderates will eventually allow a discussion of campus carry on the House floor. If a bill passed the House (as I still believe it could), it would still be there next year. It gives us a card to play. I know it's not optimal to try to roll the thing back after it's already taken effect but we're way past optimal now. 

The legislators are home now. If you care about this issue, be sure to be in touch with them, early and often, about campus carry. 

Rep. Barbara Ballard keeps saying she can't afford to get downhearted, that this is what her constituents want and, "I'm going to fight for this until the final gavel falls." That's basically where I'm at with it too. We'll keep at it until we can't keep at it any more. 

Thanks for your support. 

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