Visitors may be able to take concealed guns to Kansas Statehouse beginning next month

Legislative committee has option to keep Capitol's current security measures in place


June 18--Visitors to the Kansas Statehouse will be able to bring a concealed handgun beginning July 1 if they have a permit, unless a committee of legislative leaders decides before then to keep the Capitol's current security measures.

Last year the Legislature passed a bill to make it legal to carry a concealed weapon in public buildings unless they are equipped with metal detectors and security guards. That law, which has already gone into effect in municipalities across the state, also applies to the Capitol and would take effect July 1.

That is unless the Legislative Coordinating Council, which is chaired by House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, determines "the state capitol does have adequate security measures."

The statute gives the council a short window between June 1, 2014 and July 1, 2014 to make this determination. If it does nothing, it will become legal for visitors to carry a concealed firearm in the Capitol effective July 1, the Office of Revisor of Statutes confirmed.

The council has a meeting scheduled for Thursday; the issue was not on the agenda as of Wednesday morning, Merrick's spokeswoman, Rachel Whitten, said. She added the agenda had not been finalized.

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, a member of the council, said he thought the Capitol already had adequate security measures.

The front entrance has metal detectors and security officers from the Kansas Highway Patrol standing guard. All other entrances require a key card to enter.

The Kansas Highway Patrol said it has no position on the policy, but that if the council holds a meeting to review security, it would provide testimony about the measures currently in place.

Reach Bryan Lowry at 785-296-3006 or blowry@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BryanLowry3.

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