A Kansas House committee has narrowly rejected a bill that would have allowed the University of Kansas Health System to continue banning guns. It failed on an 11-11 tie vote. The Federal and State Affairs Committee chairman, Republican Representative John Barker, chose not to vote to break the tie.
A state law says most public buildings must allow concealed weapons unless there’s security in place that can keep out all guns. The health system has an exemption that’s set to expire later this year. The bill would have given the health system a permanent exemption.
Opponents of the bill, like Republican Representative Michael Houser, say people have a right to defend themselves.
“When we pass legislation like this or put placards on doors, you’re basically taking away that person’s right to self-defense,” says Houser.
Democratic Representative Louis Ruiz opposes the bill, saying hospital officials worry they’ll be at a competitive disadvantage if they’re forced to allow guns.
“Scientists and doctors and students and patients not wanting to come to our state because of the exemption being lifted after July,” says Ruiz.
Officials at the KU Health System say it would be very expensive for them to install security at all the facility entrances. They say they currently have a good security system in place and shouldn’t be forced to allow guns.
The committee rejected an amendment that would have also allowed public hospitals, mental facilities and nursing homes to continue banning guns. They also rejected amendments that would have expanded concealed carry rights into more facilities.
Supporters of barring guns in public places like hospitals and college campuses hope the issue can still make progress this session. They may attempt to bring up the issue during debate on a different bill on the House floor.