TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A state senator took aim at the state's new concealed carry law.
Sen. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona, held a news conference Thursday to clear up what he says are misconceptions about the law. Knox supports the measure.
Knox says the goal is to give licensed Kansans a way to protect themselves in public buildings without adequate security. He says, contrary to statements from critics, the Statehouse will not be exempt from allowing licensed concealed carry. While local entities can opt for a six-month exemption to formulate security plans and apply for a four-year exemption, no exemptions will be allowed after four years.
Knox says the policy will make Kansas safer. He says, when law abiding citizens have guns, they have a means to protect themselves and stop crime.
The law takes effect July 1st. Shawnee County is among those taking a six-month exemption to develop security plans. The Topeka City Council will consider the new law at its Tuesday meeting.
Complete news release from Sen. Forrest Knox regarding misconceptions on the new concealed carry law:
TOPEKA - Senator Forrest Knox (R-Altoona) and many other members of the Kansas legislature worked for several years to address security in public buildings. These efforts have culminated with the passage of Senate Substitute for HB 2052, which becomes law on July 1, 2013. Currently much discussion and action is being taken across the state by municipalities with regard to security in their buildings. Please find below clarification of the intent and content of the new law.
Following passage of concealed carry in Kansas many buildings were posted prohibiting concealed carry even though no security was provided. Some municipalities across the state have recently discovered that this was done arbitrarily and without proper authority. Authorities are taking steps to decide which buildings require security and which do not. They are taking the signs down in buildings that they determine do not require the necessary investment in security measures. These authorities are allowing law abiding, licensed citizens to provide for their own protection where security is not in place.
The recent prevalence of mass shootings in public places, many of which have been posted “no concealed carry” and are often referred to as “gun free zones,” has shown such places to be attractive sites for criminals. Elected officials are realizing that there are liability concerns in posting unsecured buildings.
The 2007 Virginia Tech shooting is an example of such an event. A jury found the school liable in a civil law suit and awarded family members of victims large cash settlements. In this case the judge instructed the jury that a special relationship did exist between university officials and the victims, and that the relationship required officials to provide for their safety and security. The jury found Virginia Tech's actions contributed to the deaths of the students.
In hearings conducted over the last few years in the capitol, as more categories of people are being allowed to carry concealed handguns into public buildings, chief judges requested that authorities be allowed to restrict the weapons that enter court facilities when “adequate security measures” are taken. This became the impetus for the present legislation. Publicly owned buildings should only restrict licensed concealed carry when “adequate security measures” are present.
“In America our right to keep and bear arms is guaranteed and we must not allow this to be denied any place that we have a right to be,” state Sen. Knox. “The only exception to this is in the rare instances when special security is provided to the general public as a whole. Elected officials and Kansas citizens are figuring out, a sign is not adequate security.”
Senator Knox clarified several points regarding HB 2052:
1) This legislation is not a knee-jerk reaction to recent events but rather the product of many years of work which has encompassed many public hearings with passionate testimony on both sides. This is the product of the legislative process at its best.
2) This legislation passed both houses of the legislature in a strong, 80% favorable, bipartisan show of support and reflects the profound support of the citizens of Kansas for the individual right to keep and bear arms.
3) The heart of this legislation is that in publicly owned buildings, in which the public has a right and often the necessity to be, law abiding citizens shall not be denied the right to provide for their own security unless security for the general public is provided.
4) Publicly owned buildings that do not have open access to the public, having only controlled access entrances, are not specifically covered by this legislation. Buildings which are given blanket exemptions in this law are such buildings, that are intrinsically not open to the public at large or could be such. Specifically exempted are public primary and secondary schools as well as the Kansas school for the deaf and for the blind.
5) Municipalities are allowed a limited exemption for six months in order for security plans to be developed. Thereafter, one four year exemption is allowed. To obtain this exemption they must:
a) Adopt a resolution or draft a letter listing the buildings being exempted and listing the reasons for the exemption.
b) This statement must include the following sentence: ‘‘A security plan has been developed for the building being exempted which supplies adequate security to the occupants of the building and merits the prohibition of the carrying of a concealed handgun as authorized by the personal and family protection act.’’
c) A copy of the security plan must be maintained on file and must be made available to the Attorney General and local law enforcement.
d) Notice of the exemption must be sent to the Attorney General and local law enforcement.
6) Certain publicly owned institutions can receive one limited four year exemption simply by notifying the Attorney General and stating the reasons for the exemption. These institutions include a state or municipal owned:
a) medical care facility.
b) adult care home.
c) community mental health center.
d) indigent health care clinic.
e) postsecondary educational institution.
7) After this four year period, beyond December 31, 2017, no further exemption is allowed and any posted building will require “adequate security measures” to prohibit licensed concealed carry.
8) In exempting such buildings, liability issues should be a concern of those in authority and such issues are specifically included in this legislation.
a) Where “adequate security measures” are provided and a sign is posted prohibiting concealed carry liability protections are given.
b) Where security is not provided and concealed carry is allowed the same liability protections are given.
c) These protections are provided for both public and private buildings, but private buildings are specifically deemed protected from any increase in liability due to this legislation. Public buildings receive no such protection from increased liability due to this legislation.
d) Exempted buildings receive none of these liability protections.
9) Related liability insurance issues are arising as the company that insures most school districts and community colleges in the state, and many of the municipalities, is apparently objecting to this legislation. However, as there is no statistical basis for increased liability in allowing concealed carry where no security now exists, several entities in the state have found alternate insurers who will provide the same service while allowing concealed carry and are charging less for the service. It is apparently time to end this insurance monopoly and let free markets work.
10) In keeping with this legislation, chief judges of judicial districts are given specific authority to limit the presence of weapons in their courtrooms and ancillary courtrooms, provided that security “such as armed law enforcement” is in place. However, judges across the state are trying to require that the entire building which houses their court facilities be posted and to require security. This is in direct contrast to the legislation and to their current practice in many rural areas. In the past some county commissioners have complied with such requests of chief judges and others have not. In many rural areas only the judicial areas of the buildings have been made restricted access or provided security measures. On the occasions when security is needed for the general public entering a courtroom, an officer with a wand is adequate. The public areas of such buildings must have “adequate security measures” in order to prohibit licensed concealed carry in those areas.
11) In similar fashion corrections and jail facilities as well as law enforcement agencies are not impeded from prohibiting weapons from entering the secure areas of their buildings. However, they cannot prohibit licensed concealed carry in the public areas unless “adequate security measures” are provided.
12) Licensed employees in buildings which lack ‘adequate security measures” cannot be denied the right to carry concealed handguns.
13) Any licensed person who has authority to enter a restricted access entrance in buildings which provide ‘adequate security measures” is not in violation of the law when carrying a concealed handgun within the building.
14) Certain publicly owned institutions are given authority to allow licensed employees to carry within their buildings even if the buildings are posted. These institutions, which may set their own policy requirements for allowing employees to carry, include a state or municipal owned:
a) unified school district.
b) medical care facility.
c) adult care home.
d) community mental health center.
e) indigent health care clinic.
f) postsecondary educational institution.
15) Several changes have been made which affect the capitol building and capitol complex.
a) Any person may carry a firearm on the grounds of the state capitol.
b) It is not unlawful for anyone licensed to carry a concealed handgun within these buildings, including the governor’s residence and grounds.
c) Concealed carry will be allowed within the state capitol after July 1, 2014 unless specific action is taken by the Legislative Coordinating Council prior to that date and it is determined that “adequate security measures” exist in the capitol.
16) There is no longer a list of buildings in which concealed carry is prohibited.
17) There is no longer a criminal penalty for a person licensed to carry a concealed handgun that carries in a posted building. He may only be denied access or removed from such premises.
18) Implied in this legislation is that the weapons themselves are not evil but rather it is the actions of criminals that are evil. We can trust the citizens of Kansas and should not limit their freedoms based on the illegal actions of a few. The knife legislation passed this year is a clear example of this.
19) Local control starts with our citizens, by protecting their constitutionally guaranteed individual liberties. Kansas citizens who, by the way obey the signs, are not a threat to our security. We should not tread on their rights while at the same time taking no steps to prevent criminals from bringing illegal weapons into public buildings. Good Kansans with guns make all of Kansas safer.
20) What does the future hold? The citizens of Kansas are in strong support of their individual right to keep and bear arms, as about 90% voted to make this very clear in the Kansas Constitution. Legislatively, look for support of state’s rights over federal overreach. Look for support for measures aiding the security of a free state. Look for less infringement on the constitutional rights of Kansans - a move toward constitutional carry. Look for tighter and tighter adherence to the 2nd Amendment, which elected officials are sworn to support.