Gov. Laura Kelly on Friday vetoed a bill that lowers the age for carrying a concealed weapon to 18, saying it threatens to put more guns on college campuses and endangers families and children.
“Throughout my time in public office, I have been a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and of Kansans’ right to own firearms,” Kelly said in a statement.
“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.”
State law already allows someone as young as 18 to carry a gun, but the bill would allow anyone from 18 to 20 to get a license to carry a concealed weapon.
“Rather than put our communities at risk, the governor stood up for our safety,” said Tonya Boyd, a volunteer leader with the Kansas chapter of Moms Demand Action.
“Gun violence is an epidemic in Kansas and across the country, and we need meaningful action to address the gun violence in our state – not bills that make it easier to carry hidden, loaded guns in public,” Boyd said in a statement.
The bill also allows someone with a valid license or permit to carry a concealed firearm issued by another state to carry a concealed gun in Kansas.
The bill provides that valid licenses or permits issued by another jurisdiction entitle the lawful holder only to carry concealed handguns as defined in Kansas law.
The goal of the legislation is to allow Kansans who have a license to be able to concealed carry in other states with permitting requirements such as Colorado and Nebraska.
Republican Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt called the governor’s veto “deeply disappointing.”
“The bill strengthens our ability to obtain reciprocity in licensing with other states,” said Schmidt, a candidate for governor in 2022.
The bill, he said, “also promotes firearms safety by encouraging 18- to 20-year-olds, who lawfully may carry openly under current law, to obtain training and a permit to carry concealed.
“I hope the Legislature will override this ill-advised veto when it returns in May.”
The National Rifle Association took issue with Kelly’s veto of the underlying portion of the bill granting license reciprocity with other states.
It accused Kelly of bending to the “will of radical gun control groups and denied tens of thousands of law-abiding gun owners the ability to defend themselves and their families when away from home.”
The NRA said Kelly had a “callous indifference” to self-defense and called on the Legislature to override the governor’s veto.