April 28, 2021
By Mark Chesnut
A measure that would have made it possible for more adults—including those aged 18 to 20—to carry a firearm for self-defense in Kansas has hit a major snag.
After the Sunflower State legislature overwhelmingly passed a measure greatly expanding the right of self-defense, Democrat Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed the bill late last week. Among other things, the legislation would have allowed all people licensed to carry a firearm in other states to carry one in Kansas, allow 18- to 20-year-olds to apply for a concealed carry permit and authorized the state attorney general to issue an alternative license to carry a concealed handgun to qualified applicants during a declared state of disaster emergency.
As Dan Zimmerman pointed out over at TheTruthAboutGuns.com, Kelly kicked off her veto message with a phrase anti-gun politicians like to use at every level of government.
“Throughout my time in public office, I have always been a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and of Kansans’ right to own firearms,” Kelly said. “But we can respect and defend the rights of Kansas gun owners while also taking effective steps to keep our children and families safe. Legislation that allows more guns on campus is neither safe nor effective, and it will drive prospective students away from our schools.”
Kelly’s stated reason for the veto seems disingenuous at best. As education groups like the Kansas Association of School Boards pointed out, the measure wouldn’t have changed current laws that allow high schools to prohibit guns on school grounds. So, in fact, it would not have “allowed more guns on campus” as she stated.
Ignoring that simple fact, Kelly apparently believes that 18- to 20-year-olds are mature enough to vote, serve in the military, and practice their other Constitutional rights, as well as paying taxes, but not mature enough to carry a handgun for self-defense, even after qualifying for a carry permit. Incidentally, 18-year-olds are already permitted to open carry in the state.
Will the legislature be able to muster the numbers to override Kelly’s veto? That will depend largely on the state House of Representatives. While the Kansas state Senate approved the legislation with a veto-proof majority, the original House vote was four votes short of such a majority—including five Republicans who voted against the bill.
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for the past 20 years.