Kansas lawmakers take up age limits, guns in schools debate

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - As lawmakers across the state debate President Donald Trump's recent proposals for battling the wave of school shooting plaguing the country, one Kansas Senator not only expressed his support for the measure, he said he would go even further.

"I hope we can get a comprehensive plan, both in terms of background checks. Doing something with AR-15s. I would raise that age up to 25," said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas).

Roberts was talking about President Trump's support for raising the age limit to buy certain semi-automatic weapons to 21. The Republican Senator says, in the wake of the Parkland shooting where 17 people died, Congress is ready to act.

"I just don't think it's appropriate anymore and I think that the NRA understands that," said Roberts.

In a meeting with survivors of the massacre at the Florida high school last week, President Trump brought up the idea that some teachers with military experience or special training be allowed to carry concealed weapons.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who serves as an advisor to the President, said he spoke to him about arming school staff members.

"There are plenty of teacher out there, coaches and staff, who are comfortable doing so," Kobach said. "My point is if they're willing to protect themselves and others, and they already have a concealed carry permit, and they're willing to take some more training, why wouldn't we allow to do this? Our kids' lives are on the line."

Current Kansas law allows local school boards to approve concealed carry for teachers - a position supported by the Kansas Association of School Boards.

"We think that should be a local decision, and if that community, and that school board and that staff thinks that appropriate, we think that's their decision. In Kansas it is," said the organization's Executive Director Mark Tallman said.

Opponents of expanding the number of people allowed to carry guns in a school argue more guns aren't the answer.

“An adequate security staff in place, the additional need for additional armament, or more guns, seems to me a little bit beyond the pale," said Kansas Sen. David Haley (D-Kansas City).

Lawmakers on all sides acknowledge there are plenty of strong opinions, but for Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) it's time to talk it out.

"There are days compromise is a dirty word in Washington. This is one of those situations where if we're gonna address the issue, it's gonna take everybody coming together," Rep. Jenkins said.

While President Trump discussed raising the age to purchase some guns to 21, the Kansas House voted to lower the age for concealed carry from 21 to 18. The bill will now go to the Senate for debate.