Kansas lowers concealed gun carry age to 18 as Legislature overrides Gov. Laura Kelly veto

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Dion Lefler
·3 min read
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The Kansas Legislature on Monday overturned Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of a bill lowering the minimum age to carry a concealed weapon in the state from 21 to 18.

After less than five minutes of debate, House Republicans pieced together the 84 votes needed to override Kelly’s veto of House Bill 2058, which allows persons 18, 19 and 20 to get a concealed carry permit.

The bill also makes it easier in some cases for felons convicted of violent crimes to reacquire their rights to possess and carry firearms.

The override later passed 31-8 in the Senate, where the outcome was never in doubt.

Although she proclaims herself a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, Kelly cited on-campus carry at state colleges and universities as her primary reason for rejecting HB2058.

“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.”

Rep. John Barker, R-Abiline, carried the veto measure on the House floor and questioned Kelly’s commitment to gun rights.

“The governor in her message indicated that she has always supported the Second Amendment. Well, I find that hard to believe sometimes, because we already have 18-year-olds that can carry a gun (openly) in the state of Kansas,” Barker said. “This requires them, if they’re going to carry a concealed weapon, to get training and to get a permit and to have a background investigation.

“I think that’s a positive move. Any time people can get training, that’s a good thing.”

He said the law started out as a way for Kansas to honor out-of-state concealed-carry permits, including those from states that already allow 18-20 year olds to carry. “So they would be able to carry in the state, yet a Kansas resident would not be able to carry at that age,” he said.

The bill was originally sent to Kelly’s desk last month on an 80-43 House vote, four votes short of veto-proof.

Three representatives — Dave Baker of Council Grove, Mike Dodson of Manhattan and Chuck Smith of Pittsburg — changed sides. All are Republicans.

A fourth Republican, Rep. Ron Howard of Wichita, missed the first vote due to health reasons but voted for the veto override. That gave the Republicans the exact margin they needed.

Rep. Louis Ruiz, a Kansas City Democrat, was the only voice raised against the veto override. He said young people “right out of high school” may not have the maturity and judgment to carry weapons responsibly, even with training.

“You may say in the military, they can join at 18, which is true,” Ruiz said. “The culture in the military is firearms, they respect the firearms. A lot of times I’ve seen things happening, especially in the inner city . . . where people who carry, especially young people who carry firearms, want to gain respect by carrying firearms instead of respecting the firearms.”