Visitors to the Kansas Statehouse will be able to come armed starting in July because of law passed last year.
Under the expanded gun-rights law pushed through by Kansas Republicans last year, legislators and employees are already permitted to carry concealed handguns inside the Statehouse with a proper license. The law also allowed private citizens to carry concealed weapons in more public buildings unless local governments or state agencies created policies specifically prohibiting it before July 1, 2014.
With that deadline quickly approaching, the Republican-controlled Legislative Coordinating Council was expected to consider the issue at a Thursday meeting.
Republican state Rep. Jim Howell, who has carried a gun on the state House floor, told The Wichita Eagle that visitors with guns could help with holes in the security provided by the Capitol Police.
“If a bad guy wanted to bring a gun into that building, could it happen?” Howell said, anticipating that gunman might slip into the building behind an employee with a key card. “That’s a breach of our security. So could a bad guy walk in that door with a gun? Absolutely.”
“I’m not worried about the guys with concealed carry licenses. I’ve never been worried about them," Howell insisted. "The ones we need to worry about are the guys who are not licensed, who are concealing their firearm for some reason, and would walk in there apparently with some sinister intent."
Capitol Police, however, said earlier this year that having more guns in the building could lead to more 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," Capitol Police spokesperson Officer Steven Crumpler told WIBW in January.
According to the Capitol Visitors Center, the Kansas Statehouse gets up to 500 visitors a day while the Legislature is in session. That number drops to about 150 visitors each day during the remainder of the year.
Watch the video below from WIBW, broadcast January 10, 2014.
[Man with concealed handgun/weapon (Shutterstock.com)]