The tone of the two-hour Kansas House showdown Tuesday on legislation broadening opportunities for out-of-staters to carry concealed firearms in Kansas was evident when Democrat Jerry Stogsdill offered what he referred to as a "simple" amendment.
Stogsdill asked the Republican-dominated House to ban handgun magazines holding more than 10 bullets. He said Kansans could look no further for justification than a recent Johnson County incident in which Dylan Ruffin, grandson of Wichita billionaire casino mogul Phil Ruffin, allegedly used a high-capacity weapon to spray an occupied elementary school and shoot at law enforcement officers responding to the 911 call.
"This does not restrict gun ownership," said Stogsdill, of Prairie Village. "All it does is put a reasonable amount of rounds into a handgun."
Rep. Tory Arnberger, R-Great Bend, was the first Republican to pounce on the amendment, declaring it didn't make any sense. She said the bill was written to level the playing field for gun owners, not create new inequities.
"Where is the danger in high capacity?" said Burlington Rep. Eric Smith, a law enforcement active-shooter instructor.
And, to seal the deal, retired law enforcement officer and Independence Rep. Doug Blex declared: "We don't restrict high horsepower in cars. This is just ridiculous in my mind."
The Republican majority in the House mowed down a handful of other amendments offered by Democrats before advancing House Bill 2326 to final action, which is likely to occur Wednesday. The bill would alter state law to enable people as young as 18 who possessed a valid concealed-firearm license from another state to carry concealed handguns in Kansas.
The Kansas chapter of the National Rifle Association and the office of Attorney General Derek Schmidt sought the legislation to restore reciprocity for holders of concealed-carry licenses. In 2013, the Kansas Legislature established a reciprocity law. However, legislators failed to retain that language in a 2015 bill granting Kansans the right to carry concealed without a license.
Rep. Stephen Owens, R-Hesston, said his 19-year-old daughter wanted to carry concealed in Kansas for personal protection. He embraced the idea with an amendment, passed by the House, lowering the age for a Kansas-issued license to carry concealed to 18 from the current limit of 21.
"There is so much crazy in the world," Owens said. "We're training people for self defense."
Rep. Jim Gartner, a Topeka Democrat who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, said people with extensive training, including soldiers, made mistakes with firearms and the eight-hour licensing course required by Kansas was insufficient. He recalled neglecting to set the safety on a Marine weapon and being ordered to perform the maneuver 1,000 times with his nose.
The House voted down an amendment proposed by Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, to allow colleges and universities in Kansas to ban concealed firearms from campus buildings. Under existing state law, higher education institutions can prohibit handguns from a building only if people entering the structure pass through metal detectors with security guards.
"Most campuses have hundreds of entrances and really cannot afford that," she said.
Smith, the Burlington Republican, said Ballard's concern for safety of students and faculty was exaggerated. He said opponents of opening campus buildings to holders of concealed weapons falsely argued for years the change would result in "unbridled anarchy" or wild shootouts.
He also said it was curious that supporters of Ballard's amendment were trying to ban concealed-carry in places with the highest concentration of educated people.
Opponents of the bill testifying before a House committee included the Kansas chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Kansas InterFaith Action and several individuals.