Kansas teenagers could carry concealed firearms under bill advancing in Legislature

Katie Bernard
·2 min read

Kansans as young as 18 years old could carry concealed firearms, under a bill that moved one step closer to becoming law Thursday.

On a 30 to 8 vote, the Senate approved a bill to lower the minimum age to carry a concealed weapon from 21 to 18. It would also make valid in Kansas any concealed carry licenses from other states.

On Thursday night, the Kansas House approved the Senates amendents to the bill sending it to the Governor’s desk.

The bill, which had already passed in the House 85-38, could now go to a conference committee because the Senate added provisions allowing Kansans with prior convictions to obtain concealed carry licenses after their records are expunged.

Kansans as young as 18 can already open carry firearms, but open carry is not allowed on college campuses. Under the new law, far more students could carry guns on campus.

In a debate Wednesday lawmakers rejected amendments brought by Democrats that would have increased the minimum age to 19 or kept it at 21.

Sen. Richard Hilderbrand, a Galena Republican, said these young adults are already able to join the military. They would be required to receive training and obtain a license.

Under current law, he said, it is only illegal for them to possess a gun if they cover it up. “If they put on a jacket they’re breaking the law,” he said.

But opponents worried the bill could give high school students easy access to guns.

“We are allowing 18-year-olds who are high school seniors to have guns concealed at parties where there may or may not be alcohol, and with that I think we are just asking for more concern,” said Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes, a Lenexa Democrat.

Kansas colleges began allowing concealed weapons on campus in 2017 despite opposition from students and faculty.

Currently, roughly 41% of University of Kansas students can carry a concealed weapon. Under the bill, 91% would be eligible.

Though advocates say this will make students safer and better able to protect themselves, opponents say it will lead to dangerous situations in dorms and classrooms.