Kansas gun-rights advocates won a battle with governor Laura Kelly (D.) on Monday when a gun-carry bill passed over her veto.
18 to 20-year-olds in the state, who were already legally allowed to openly carry guns, will now be allowed to apply for concealed carry permits. The state Senate passed the override vote 31-8 with two cross-over votes of support from Democrats. The House passed it 84-39 along party lines.
Gun-rights advocates had been pursuing the change for the past four years. Republican majority whip Blake Carpenter celebrated the bill’s passage with a signing ceremony that featured a number of fellow Republicans and gun-rights activists.
“When the governor vetos your bill, you have a veto override signing ceremony,” he said in a Facebook post. “HB2058 has been worked on since 2017 and expands our Second Amendment rights here in Kansas!”
Travis Couture-Lovelady, vice president of the NRA-affiliate Kansas State Rifle Association, said the bill was needed to bring the state’s policies into line with others. He said the bill was a fix for a potential situation where 18 to 20-year-old Kansas residents would be unable to concealed carry in their own state even as those the same age from other states could.
“When Attorney General Schmidt brought the issue to me in 2017 we sat down and determined the legislative fix needed to ensure full recognition of Kansas’ concealed carry permits and how to maintain our reciprocal agreements,” Couture-Lovelady told The Reload. “In order to maintain those agreements, we would have to recognize permits from other states that issue concealed carry permits to those under the age of 21. Working with gun rights leaders in the legislature we determined for fairness reasons to also include a provision that creates a new provisional permit for 18, 19, and 20-year-olds.”
Governor Kelly said the bill would put lives at risk and hurt enrollment at state universities.
“We can respect and defend the rights of Kansas gun owners while also taking effective steps to keep our children and families safe,” she said in her veto message. “Legislation that allows more guns on campus is neither safe nor effective, and it will drive prospective students away from our schools.”
Couture-Lovelady said the bill was ultimately about treating Kansas residents the same as other Americans.
“We believe that Kansans should have the same rights as out of staters traveling through Kansas,” he said.