Legislators are weighing a bill that would allow 18- to 20-year-olds to carry concealed guns, despite uncertainty about what that might mean for the ability of young adults to bring firearms to school. Gun advocates say allowing young adults to concealed carry is necessary as part of a broader push to ensure that out-of-state concealed carry permit holders are recognized in Kansas. Currently, only Kansans 21 years of age and older can concealed carry. And opponents worry that overturning that will allow 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds to legally carry a gun in school. “It seems like we are opening ourselves up to that,” said Rep. Jo Ella Hoye, D-Lenexa. During a hearing on the bill Wednesday in the House Federal and State Affairs Committee, committee staff said the issue would likely be handled on a “case-by-case basis” due to overlapping state and federal laws. But Rep. Blake Carpenter, R-Derby, a chief proponent of the legislation, disagreed. He said after the hearing that the current legal presumption is “you don’t conceal carry in a K-12 school.” Currently, concealed carrying in schools is generally barred, as long as proper signage is posted. A school board can authorize employees to carry a weapon, although Carpenter said he was unaware of any instance in which that had actually happened. He said young adults who get the provisional concealed carry permit allowed for under the bill would “learn the rules” as part of mandated training. “I think they will be educated that they cannot take their firearm to school,” Carpenter said.
College campuses are another matter. While concealed carrying is already allowed at the state’s public institutions of higher education, it is limited to those 21 years of age and older. “The gun lobby argued it was OK only because people 21 and older could conceal carry,” said Rabbi Moti Rieber, executive director of Kansas Interfaith Action. “This would eliminate that distinction.”
But during the hearing, Carpenter argued that residents are allowed to open carry firearms and join the military, among other privileges, once they turn 18. He said it didn’t make sense that a young adult could open carry but then be suddenly breaking the law if they put on a jacket. “They are adults in the eyes of the law,” he said. “At age 18, you are tried as an adult, you enter into contracts, among other things.” [full article]