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Kansas Governor Vetoes Bill To Lower Legal Age For Carrying A Concealed Weapon

This story has been updated.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed a bill Friday that would have lowered the legal age for carrying concealed weapons.

The legal age is 21, but the majority-Republican Legislature wants to allow permits once people turn 18.

Kelly, a Democrat, described herself as a “long-time supporter of Second Amendment rights.”

“But there are times when it goes too far,” she said shortly before her office announced the veto.

When she was in the state Senate, Kelly voted against allowing concealed guns at the state’s public universities.

“Putting guns on our campuses, in our dorm rooms,” she said Friday, “it just seems like a really bad idea.”

Proponents of lowering the age for concealed carry point out that 18-year-olds can serve in the military.

Kelly countered that she checked regulations for firearms on military installations in Kansas and found restrictions against keeping guns in living quarters.

“The idea that we just willy-nilly give guns to 18-year-olds is not true,” the governor said.

“The other thing is that (people in the military) go through hundreds of hours of training in using firearms,” she said, whereas the average person doesn’t. “So I think to compare those two things is not appropriate.”

The bill passed the Legislature this month with majorities in both chambers, but not enough votes in the House to override the governor’s veto.

Proponents in the House will need to win over four more lawmakers to achieve that when they get the chance to review vetoes next month.

The bill also would recognize concealed carry permits issued by other states.

The National Rifle Association’s Kansas state director attacked the governor’s move.

"Gov. Kelly has bent to the will of radical gun control groups,” Travis Couture-Lovelady, also a former state lawmaker, said in a statement.

He said the veto denies law-abiding people “the ability to defend themselves and their families when away from home.”

Reporter Stephen Koranda contributed to this story.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen reports on consumer health for the Kansas News Service.

You can follow her on Twitter @celia_LJ or email her at celia (at) kcur (dot) org. The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy.

Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news media at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.

Copyright 2021 KCUR 89.3