Capitol Police Say Concealed Carry In Statehouse May Cause Problems

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TOPEKA, Kansas (WIBW) -- Capitol Police are saying a law allowing legislators to carry concealed weapons in the statehouse may cause problems.

Officer Steven Crumpler with Capitol Police says it doesn't make them scared necessarily, just puts them on higher alert.

Under current law, Kansas legislators who have a license are able to carry concealed weapons inside the statehouse.

Other employees who work the building can do so as well, but need three things:

1. A badge that allows unlimited access
2. A current concealed carry license
3. Permission from their employer

Crumpler said that because legislators don't necessarily have an "employer" or "boss," they are exempt on that part, and they bypass metal detectors and security.

He said with lawmakers walking around the statehouse with guns, it could cause some problems.

"We always felt the building is safe and our concern would be if we had an active shooter, that other law enforcement agencies that might come to the building to help out, they won't know who the concealed carry people are. If they saw them with a handgun, they mistake them for an active shooter."

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley agrees with Capitol Police in that event.

"Police will shoot to kill."

While legislators and qualified employees are the only people allowed to have guns in the statehouse, an upcoming debate may change that. By July 1, the Legislative Coordinating Council will decide if everyday people like you and me would be able to carry concealed weapons inside the statehouse, with a permit of course. If they say the building does not have adequate security, the general public will be allowed to carry inside.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce says "adequate security" is a vague term. He also sits on that council.

"Fourteen states have a varying degree of having the general public carry concealed in their capitol. Kansas is moving toward that direction."

He also said that while he believes the law enforcement does a wonderful job, there are always questions of the safety inside the Capitol. While he wouldn't comment on specific situations, he recalled one in which he said Capitol Police couldn't get to the 5th floor for 20 minutes.

"You get a building this vast and with this many doors, it becomes very difficult to maintain a safe environment."

Hensley said he's very concerned with guns in the statehouse. He said in a statement:

"I believe it is imperative that we follow the advice of the Capitol Police. They've advised me that allowing concealed carry in the Capitol could have dangerous consequences in the event of a shooting incident occurs in the building. They are experts and by all means we should listen to them."

Crumpler said he didn't know if it was so much an issue of legislators overstepping boundaries and taking on the position of law enforcement.

"I would hope that our legislators who enacted the law are aware of what the rules are."

It is unknown how many legislators actually have concealed carry permits and carry weapons in the statehouse. Bruce said he did not.

Speaker of the House Ray Merrick said he has a permit, but was not carrying a gun when 13 News spoke with him Friday. He did say "there will be some concern" with the topic.