WICHITA, Kansas – Bringing a gun into a school is not allowed under Kansas law. But, if you do carry a gun onto a K-12 campus, it’s a Class B misdemeanor.
This week, the Goddard School Police Chief says carrying a gun into a school should be a felony.
“We had our incident here, what, a couple of weeks ago,” says Goddard School Police Chief Ronny Lieurance. “He was armed with a loaded, semi-automatic pistol.”
Lieurance says the former student was on campus to talk with a current student when school police officers started asking questions.
“We don’t allow people at random to come into our school to see students,” recalls Lieurance. “So, we started asking questions. Just their instinct, the officers didn’t feel something was right, and they asked the individual if they had anything on their person they shouldn’t have, and performed a pat down search and that’s when the weapon was discovered.”
Lieurance is now asking why it’s not a felony under Kansas law.
KSN asked Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett.
Bennett says he does not make the laws. That is up to lawmakers. But, he did speak to what he believed was the intent of making the crime, only a misdemeanor.
“The mental state is the question that we have. And if someone doesn’t have the intent to use something in a bad way, I’m sure that’s why they (lawmakers) made it a misdemeanor,” says Bennett. “Now, if someone pulls it (gun at school) out, it’s a whole different, we’re talking aggravated assault. A guy who walks in with it in his hand is a whole different story than that. (If a school official asks) What are you doing? And he points it (gun) at them, we are not talking about the Class B misdemeanor. We’re talking about aggravated assault, a personal felony with presumptive prison. Go to the penitentiary.”
Bennett says he is not taking a stance on lawmakers who made the law saying that it is “only” a misdemeanor. But, he is taking a stand on a current bill.
KSN contacted several lawmakers to ask if they would consider upping the penalties for guns at schools.
Senate Member Michael O’Donnell was the first of several to respond.
“I do think it’s something that could be reviewed,” says O’Donnell. “Because every gun rights activist is going to tell you that we need to enforce our gun laws. The last thing we need if for people to be completely ignoring (current gun laws) them.”
O’Donnell says anyone concerned about the penalties currently on the books, should contact lawmakers by email and phone.
“We need to hear the opinions of Kansans, ” says O’Donnell.
Senate Bill 45 would do away with conceal carry classes. Right now, to conceal and carry a weapon in Kansas, you have to take a class and you have to go through training and you have to go through a background check to get a license.
Senate Bill 45 passed and is now being considered by the House. If it passes, it would open up conceal carry.
“First, let me be clear,” says Bennett. “You asked, so I will tell you. I am a member of the NRA. Sure.”
But, when it comes to conceal carry being opened up?
“I don’t know what’s wrong with the current system,” says Bennett on lawmakers considering changes to conceal carry laws. “But if someone (conceal carry person in Kansas) wants to do this, I think we owe it, they owe it to themselves to make sure they know what the laws are. Put it that way.”
Simply stated, Bennett is a firm believer in conceal carry mandatory classes remaining law in Kansas for anyone wanting to conceal and carry.
“They go over some of the legal stuff,” says Bennett. “And this stuff is complex.”
For Goddard School Police Chief, Lieurance, he also says he agrees, conceal carry should remain only for Kansans who take classes and get background checks and get a license.
“And a loaded weapon in the hands of an unexperienced young person is a bad mix without proper training,” says Lieurance. “Without proper licensing to carry that weapon, I think it’s just a set-up for disaster.”
Case in point, Lieurance says, is a person carrying a semi-automatic gun into his school last month. He also says charges should be more serious for those who carry guns into the school.
“I, for a number of years, was under the impression that was a higher level offense on the scale of crimes if you will. And I’m a little surprised that it was still considered a class B misdemeanor as opposed to a felony offense,” says Lieurance. “My personal opinion is, yes, it should be elevated (to a felony) that way the offense itself stays on the person’s record a little longer than what a misdemeanor might.”
Kansas Statute 21-6301 is currently in effect. Statute 21-6301 states that a person carrying a gun into a school, other than a law enforcement officer, is a class B nonperson select misdemeanor. It’s punishable by a fine of up to $2,500, and possible jail time.
“I do believe in laws being a deterrent, yes,” says Lieurance. “I do believe this should be changed. Period.”
- STORY | One man arrested for weapon at Goddard High School
- DOCUMENT | Kansas Concealed Carry Statutes
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- DOCUMENT | Kansas Senate Bill 45
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