Kansas Governor Sam Brownback [official profile] allowed a bill that permits public hospitals, mental health facilities and other health-providing facilities to ban concealed weapons, to become law on Thursday without his signature. HB 2278 [text, PDF] was passed by Senate [JURIST report] on a 24-16 vote. Brownback, a strong gun rights advocate, in a criticized the bill [text, PDF] for restricting gun owners’ rights, but also noted there are safety concerns at mental hospitals by allowing guns into the facilities. HB 2278 makes permanent the exemption banning concealed weapons in healthcare facilities granted back in 2013, which was due to expire this July. Those opposing the bill, such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) [advocacy website], argue the ban should only apply to restricted areas inside healthcare facilities in order to uphold gun owners’ right to protect themselves, especially in building without heightened security. Brownback urged legislators to later review this issue again to “find a better balance” between hospitals’ safety concerns and citizens’ safety concerns.
Gun ownership and carry rights have become an increasingly prevalent issue. In April Iowa Governor Terry Branstad [official website] signed legislation [JURIST report] expanding gun rights in the state. In March North Dakota Governor Burgum signed a “constitutional carry” handgun bill [JURIST report] into law. Earlier that week, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed into law [JURIST report] a bill allowing individuals over the age of 21 to get enhanced concealed carry permits which will allow them to carry concealed weapons at public colleges, airports, polling places, sporting events, some state offices and the state capitol. In February the New Hampshire House of Representatives approved a bill that would repeal the law [JURIST report] prohibiting state citizens from carrying concealed firearms without a permit. Earlier in February the US House of Representatives voted to repeal [text, PDF] an Obama-era gun regulation that required mental health information to be shared with the national gun background check system. In December Ohio Governor John Kasich signed Senate Bill 199 [JURIST report], making it legal to carry concealed weapons at daycare facilities and onto college campuses. In March the US House of Representatives [official website] approved a bill [JURIST report] making it easier “mentally incompetent” veterans to obtain firearms. That same month, US President Donald Trump signed a bill [JURIST report] revoking gun restrictions on those with mental illness, contrary to the Obama-era gun regulations.