A bill that would have made public university and community college campuses in Kansas permanent “gun-free” zones failed on Tuesday in committee. Only two Democrats on the committee voted to send the bill on to the State Senate.
That law also opened public buildings to concealed carriers, but provided a four-year exemption for campuses.
Gun-rights people were ecstatic. The Kansas State Rifle Association said it “is thrilled to see Kansas Senators fighting to defend self-defense rights of responsible adults on our campuses,” adding that “Kansans overwhelmingly support the Second Amendment, as written, so it’s exciting to see that position defended by the Kansas Senate today.”
It wasn’t the full Senate that voted the bill into extinction, however. It was the Senate’s Federal and State Affairs Committee that heard arguments from both sides last week and then voted to scuttle the bill yesterday.
Those arguments were decidedly anti-gun (translation: pro-bill), with activists virtually controlling the conversation, according to AP writer John Hanna, who attended the hearing. Those arguing in favor of sending the bill to the full Senate were hoping that the political shift to the Left that took place in Kansas in November when voters ousted two dozen conservatives from the legislature would carry the day.
Jo Ella Hoye, spokeswoman for the Kansas chapter of Moms Demand Action, stated: “We are disappointed that [the committee] sided with the extremist gun lobby instead of the students, faculty and concerned parents who testified just days ago. It’s a setback [but] ‘Moms’ will be back tomorrow, and we still have hope that this fight is not over.” On Wednesday, an identical bill will be heard by a House committee, giving “Moms” another chance.
Moms Demand Action is part of the campaign by Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) that continues to press for more gun controls. But the arguments favoring concealed carry on campus remain the same: Adults should be treated as adults; those with concealed-carry permits have provably lower incidences of gun violence than the population as a whole; “gun-free” zones don’t work; 26 colleges already allow concealed carry, including all public universities in Utah and multiple college campuses in Colorado, totaling over 70 campuses; and “when seconds count, law enforcement is minutes away.”
Whether those facts carry the day on Wednesday at the House committee hearing arguments on the bill remains to be seen.