TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas gun owners were a step closer Tuesday to being able to carry concealed firearms without obtaining a state permit after a legislative committee approved a bill ending the requirement.
The House Federal and State Affairs Committee’s voice vote endorsing the measure sends it to the full chamber for further debate. The Senate overwhelmingly approved the bill last month.
The bill would allow any Kansas resident 21 or older who can legally own a firearm - including a rifle or shotgun - to carry it concealed. However, the state would continue to issue permits so that its residents could carry concealed in other states recognizing the Kansas permit.
The measure is part of an effort by gun-rights supporters across the nation over the past decade to loosen state restrictions on guns. Kansas last year barred local restrictions on gun ownership and sales, and its Republican-dominated Legislature has large gun-rights majorities in both chambers.
Every state at least allows residents to carry concealed with a permit, but four - Alaska, Arizona, Vermont and Wyoming - don’t require one, according to the National Rifle Association. Montana allows concealed carry without a permit outside of cities, which is most of the state, and in West Virginia, lawmakers recently passed a bill allowing concealed carry without a permit.
Supporters of the Kansas proposal said that with the right to own firearms protected by the state and federal constitutions, residents who can own a gun legally shouldn’t have to ask the government’s permission to carry it concealed.
They also said there have been no real problems with concealed carry since the state began issuing permits in 2007. The attorney general’s office said Tuesday that it has issued more than 94,000 permits, and nearly 87,000 of them remain current.
“I think we’ve proved that it works here in Kansas and that we can safely expand it,” said Rep. Steven Becker, a Buhler Republican who acknowledged he didn’t like the concealed carry law when it was enacted in 2006.
Supporters of the bill also noted that Kansas has long allowed people to carry firearms openly without a permit.
A person seeking a concealed carry permit in Kansas must complete eight hours of firearms training and pay a $132.50 fee. Critics of the bill said requiring anyone carrying concealed to undergo training protects public safety.
“Taking away training is going in the wrong direction,” said Rep. Nancy Lusk, an Overland Park Democrat who opposes the bill.
But several committee members said people who own guns legally are responsible enough to make sure they get adequate training, even without a state mandate.
“You don’t necessarily have to take a class to become proficient,” said Rep. Travis Couture-Lovelady, a Palco Republican. “Heck, I learned from grandpa, just at the farm.”
Gun-rights bill: https://bit.ly/1zQ1EXQ
Follow John Hanna on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apjdhanna
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.