Senate committee reworks, advances gun bills

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Photo credit: St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office

One bill that would have let 18-year-old Kansans carry concealed weapons was overhauled.

Another bill prohibiting domestic abusers from being armed was tweaked in a way that might make it harder for the Legislature to pass.

A Senate panel spent Monday morning working on two different gun bills that will set the stage for a gun debate by the full chamber.

The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee first advanced one bill barring domestic abusers from having a gun. The bill, however, was changed in a way that one senator said could lead to the legislation stalling before it even gets to the Senate floor.

Among other things, the bill would make gun possession illegal for someone who has been convicted of a misdemeanor for domestic violence within the last five years.

The same ban would apply to fugitives, undocumented immigrants and someone with a restraining order against them for threatening an intimate partner or their child.

Senators amended the bill to include a proposal that would only make throwing stars illegal if someone intends to use them unlawfully against another person. Under current law, possession of a throwing star is considered criminal use of a weapon.

Republican Sen. Ty Masterson pushed the amendment, saying that under current law someone could get in trouble for carrying something fashioned out of metal that looks like a throwing star but isn’t.

Democratic state Sen. Lynn Rogers of Wichita and a member of the committee opposed the changes to the domestic violence legislation, which passed the House unanimously.

“I think it’s wrong and disrespectful to those who are victims of domestic violence,” Rogers said of the amendment.

Rogers’ remarks drew a sharp rebuke from Masterson, who said the Democrat disrespected the process of debating legislation.

State Sen. Bud Estes, the committee chairman, acknowledged an interest in keeping the bill intact.

“The underlying bill is terribly important, and we don’t want to mess that up,” Estes said.

However, Estes added he didn’t think the amendment would affect the bill.

Republican state Sen. Barbara Bollier of Mission Hills said the amendment might hamper the bill’s chances of getting to the Senate floor for a debate. She predicted Senate leadership might send the bill back to committee for more work.

Meanwhile, the committee approved another bill recognizing concealed-carry permits from other states in Kansas.

However, the panel removed broad amendments adopted by the House that allow 18-year-olds to carry concealed weapons and that let colleges and universities prohibit anyone from carrying a concealed gun on campus without a permit.

Rogers tried to tack on an amendment banning bump stocks, an attachment that enables a semiautomatic rifle to fire fast. But that proposal ran into a roadblock when another senator said he could do the same thing with a belt loop as he could with a bump stock.

While some lawmakers seemed puzzled by that comment, they agreed to shelve the idea until they could study it further.

Republican Sen. Bruce Givens of El Dorado said he likes Rogers’ amendment but thought it needed more work. “I think we’re getting into areas that need more research,” he said.