Good New and Bad News (with an action alert)

When last we checked in on the campus carry debate, a “hospital only” bill, S Sub for HB 2278, was coming to the Senate floor, and we asked you to ask your senators to include campuses in the bill. Then, the bill was referred back to committee. Yesterday, it came back to the floor.  


There was a factor that kept forcing this bill back “above the line”: the state mental facilities at Osawatomie, Lansing, KNI and Rainbow are subject to the law, meaning that the ironically named “Kansas Personal and Family Protection Act” would allow concealed carry in state mental hospitals on July 1 unless either 1) the law was changed, or 2) the state put $12 million into next year's budget to pay for metal detectors and the staff to run them. There being no $12 million available even if the state wanted it, legislators were in the position of more or less having to pass this bill to avoid a policy (and publicity) disaster. Even Gov. Brownback, who never met a gun-loosening bill he didn't like, knew they had to have a bill.

But the bill that came yesterday was broader than that, including state and community hospitals, community mental centers, state-owned nursing homes, and safety net clinics – basically every institution subject to the expiration of the exemption except campuses. KU Med convinced most of the legislators that allowing guns into the hospital would be disastrous for recruitment of both patients and staff, and the rest seemed to be included along with them. The NRA tried to run out the clock on the bill by promising negotiations but never delivering, and many of the NRA legislators, who didn't seem to care much about whether there were guns at Osawatomie or not, tried to amend the bill out of existence, but yesterday it passed both chambers, 24-16 in the Senate and 91-33 in the House.

Now we wait to see whether Gov. Brownback will sign it. Supposedly he “owes” KU Med for agreeing to help buy St. Francis Hospital in Topeka, and he supposedly told some people “privately” that he would sign it if it didn't include campuses. So we'll see.

(Action alert: write to the governor, or call him at 785-296-3232 and ask him to sign S Sub for HB 2278.)

That's the good news: if the bill becomes law, there will not be guns permitted in state hospitals and community mental health centers on July 1.

The bad news is that we never got the full discussion of campus carry that we worked for, and of course it's not included in this legislation. An amendment to include it was made yesterday by one of the NRA legislators, in an attempt to kill the overall bill, but even our friends voted against it, to keep the bill “clean” enough to pass and maybe possibly be signed by the governor.

However, there are three things that come out of this for us: First: we know that there is a majority of legislators in both chambers who will vote for gunsense legislation if the stakes are high enough. Second: our friends in the legislature are motivated, because they're unhappy with the way this issue was handled by both the NRA and leadership (the promised and never-delivered “full debate” on campus carry in the House). And third, we know that no gun bill can be brought up for action in the House without being amended to include limiting or eliminating campus carry. The NRA likes to have a bill passed every year, for political and financial reasons; they couldn't get one this year, because everything they proposed would have been a vehicle for the discussion of campus carry that legislative leadership didn't want to have. And that will continue to be the case next year.

Obviously it would have been better for us to #failcampuscarry before it goes into effect on July 1. Now we'll have to listen to endless repetitions of the talking point, “You said there would be a blood-letting if guns were allowed on campus and there hasn't been.” (The corresponding fact, that there wasn't a blood-letting on campus without concealed carry – even though that's supposedly the threat - somehow never gets mentioned.)

And that's where we are: Happy that guns (probably) will not be allowed in hospitals and nursing homes on July 1, disappointed that they will be allowed on campuses. But we're not giving up; we'll be back next year, and we won't rest until we #failcampuscarry.

Thanks for your continued support. 


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