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Kansas Lawmakers Vote To Allow Guns In State Capitol

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The Kansas State Capitol in Topeka. Republican lawmakers appear poised to approve concealed carrying of guns in the building.
The Kansas State Capitol in Topeka. Republican lawmakers appear poised to approve concealed carrying of guns in the building.

The Republican-controlled Kansas House of Representatives voted to allow concealed guns into the state Capitol Wednesday in one of three pro-gun bills.

The guns in the Capitol legislation was proposed on the House floor as an amendment to a bill that allows guns to be carried into public buildings, including offices, schools and hospitals. The amendment was offered by state Rep. John Wilson (D-Lawrence), who said he didn't support the idea, but was pointing out the inconsistency. The amendment and final bill received preliminary passage with final passage expected on Thursday. Lawmakers also passed legislation that would ban the enforcement of federal bans of guns made in Kansas and to allow shooting a firearm in self-defense.

"If we feel that guns are safe in elementary schools, college campuses, hospitals and mental health centers, we should believe that it is safe for the Capitol," Wilson told The Huffington Post.

The bill would allow concealed carrying of guns in all public buildings in the state unless a sign explicitly excludes them and security checkpoints are set up at all doors. Opponents have estimated the extra security may cost millions annually. College campuses, hospitals and mental health facilities can be exempted from the new measure for four years, when the rules allow guns.

Last week, a legislative committee included a provision to allow school districts to give permission to teachers to bring their guns to school, arguing that more guns would make schools safer.

"We want it to be lawful people who have guns," state Rep. Brett Hildabrand (R-Shawnee) told HuffPost. "If we have a crisis and a gunman is on the loose, there are those who can offer assistance and protect people and lower the death toll."

Hildabrand said he is getting his concealed carry permit and plans to carry a gun in the Capitol.

The legislation still must go before the Republican-controlled state Senate and to Gov. Sam Brownback (R). The Senate is more conservative than the House and pro-gun legislation is likely to pass. Several other states allow guns in their Capitol buildings. In Missouri, legislators can bring guns into the building. In Texas, anyone with a concealed carry permit can bring a gun into the Capitol.

Wilson said the gun bill may expose security flaws. The Docking State Office Building, connected by a tunnel to the Capitol, does not have security and houses child services and revenue departments, Wilson said.

State Rep. J.R. Claeys (R-Salina), said he doesn't plan to carry his gun in the Capitol, but sees no problem for those who do. Permit holders undergo background checks and can be trusted not to shoot lawmakers, he said.

Wilson said he doesn't plan to carry his gun in the Capitol.

"At no point in the Capitol, or a football game, or when I take my dog for a walk do I feel the need to have a gun with me," Wilson said. "I trust law enforcement. It is unfortunate that some people believe we need to live in communities with everyone carrying a gun. I will continue to hunt pheasant once a year. I am not anti-gun, but I am not ardently pro-gun. I don't wake up everyday thinking that people will take my guns away."

Also on The Huffington Post

Pivotal Moments In The Federal Gun Control Debate
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