Kansas officials resist calls to rewrite gun laws

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 23, 2012 at 11:42 am •  Published: December 23, 2012
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Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis, a Lawrence Democrat, said while he agrees the debate over preventing mass shootings encompasses multiple issues, gun control should be a part of it.

"We can't just shove it under the rug," he said.

But Moran's comments were echoed to some extent by fellow U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts and U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, both of whom mentioned nation's culture as a serious issue.

"Fundamentally, the problem here is not guns, it's people," Huelskamp said.

U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder's office did not respond to email and telephone messages seeking comment, but Roberts, Huelskamp and U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins all mentioned mental health services as a key issue.

"We need to ensure all families have access to resources to help prevent mentally unstable individuals from harming themselves or others," Jenkins said.

Roberts said, "I think and many Kansans agree that to ignore a comprehensive examination of mental health policies in America is doing the victims of these mass murders, and the rest of the nation, a disservice."

Meanwhile, legislators in several states have suggested their laws should ensure that teachers and principals can carry concealed weapons into schools. Kansas law generally prohibits concealed weapons on school property, but local officials can pre-empt the ban by declining to post a notice at building entrances.

Last year, Rep. Forrest Knox, an Altoona Republican, advocated legislation to ease the ban on carrying concealed in state and municipal buildings, only to see it die in the state Senate. Elected this year to the Senate, Knox plans to push his measure again.

Knox said he agrees with the NRA that having someone who's armed and properly trained in a school would likely stop mass shootings, arguing that individual cases suggest attackers tend to commit suicide, as Lanza did, if confronted by someone with a firearm.

Knox said that for deterring attackers, "There's something to be said for not knowing who has a gun."

But he said he has doubts about the NRA's proposal, saying some gunmen would simply plan to take out a security officer first.

But Mark Desetti, a lobbyist for Kansas' largest teachers union, objected to turning schools into "armed fortresses."

"I don't want to send my kids up to a place that has to be guarded by someone with an assault weapon," he said.

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