Syndicated to Kansas newspapers May 1, 2017
Martin HawverEver get right to the door of the state hospital room of your suicidal, or maybe criminally insane, distant cousin and start thinking “do I really want my concealed-carry pistol now?”
Not often? That’s probably a good thing, but starting July 1, at the 32 buildings on campuses of the state’s four hospitals, you may not have to worry about that.
What’s this about? A largely forgotten portion of the state’s concealed-carry law which on July 1 will prevent anyone in authority at the state hospitals from making sure that there aren’t any guns in the buildings.
The original concealed-carry law passed several years ago had a provision that carrying guns at state hospitals, private hospitals, and on university campuses could be prohibited until July 1 of this year by merely posting a sign.
On July 1, those signs become just a decorative nuisance. The folks who run those hospitals and colleges won’t be able to prohibit concealed-carry by the general public unless there are guards and metal detectors and those electronic wands to make sure that nobody not specifically authorized to carry a gun can enter one of those buildings.
The key is that unless a hospital or school can make sure nobody has a weapon, well, everyone can have a weapon. Probably not a good idea at hospitals where there are mentally ill patients, or probably even at public colleges where, well, there are college kids.
Gov. Sam Brownback appears to have last week recalled that provision in state law, and in a budget amendment handed to the Senate Ways and Means and House Appropriations committees, he asked for $12 million for the upcoming fiscal year and $12 million the next year before he leaves office to get the guards and metal detectors and such needed to meet the nobody carries guns or everyone can carry guns provisions of state law.
Seems a little late to remember that provision, and while state universities and private hospitals have been working with little result most of the legislative session to win exemption from the lifting of the ban on concealed-carry, the wrap-up session starting this week is the first time there’s been a realization of the effect of that provision.
For the four state hospitals—Larned and Osawatomie state hospitals, the Kansas Neurological Institute and Parsons State Hospital and Training Center—Brownback asked lawmakers to appropriate that $12 million a year for the remainder of his term. Probably a little late, we’d guess, with the July deadline approaching and the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services which runs the hospitals saying it will take maybe nine or 10 months from the day it gets the check to meet the gun screening requirements.
One fix is simple. Just remove the language from state law that requires gun-search equipment and personnel to prohibit folks from carrying guns into those hospitals—and maybe because it would just take a few more lines of type, college campuses?
This is going to be interesting for Legislature-watches. Do lawmakers continue the now signs-only no-concealed-carry ban, which gun lobbyists oppose? Or do they pony up the money for the security measures and hope that nothing bad happens until the state hospitals get their security measures in place?
Yes, it seems a little late to be considering which way to go and money for state hospitals is tight. And…of course, do workers at those state hospitals decide to get licensed to carry concealed weapons and decide they’d rather take those security door guard jobs estimated to pay $65,000 a year rather than lesser-paying jobs mopping floors and providing health-care services and feeding those hospital patients?
All of a sudden, this gun business hits lawmakers where they look first—at the budget.
See how this comes out…