Gun Safety Advocates Look To Kansas Lawmakers
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
As some of the students you just heard pointed out, often after a terrible event like last week's shooting, gun control advocates in particular complain that nothing is being done to address gun violence. And that might be true on the federal level, but we wondered what the states are up to. In our reporting, one state stood out - Kansas. It has a Republican governor and a Republican controlled legislature. Conventional wisdom suggests that they would be friendly to the gun lobby, but gun safety groups point to Kansas as a state where progress is being made. So to talk about that, we called State Senator Barbara Bollier. She is a Republican lawmaker in Kansas. We reached her in her office at the state capitol, and I asked her what the focus of the gun safety conversation is there.
BARBARA BOLLIER: You know, it depends on the year, Michel. And last year, we focused on making sure that guns were not permitted in our mental health hospitals. And thankfully, the legislature was able to pass laws that would disallow that so the hospitals can control that themselves and say no. So I would tell you that here because we have essentially three parties - we have a Democrat Party, we have a moderate Republican Party, and we have a conservative Republican Party - we are kind of all over the map on what might be introduced as far as legislation. But what actually goes through, it takes usually moderate Republicans and Democrats working together to have a majority to pass meaningful anti-gun violence legislation.
MARTIN: Well, what are some of the things that are being discussed in this legislative session? I know that last year there was a whole conversation about teaching gun safety in the schools. The NRA has a curriculum aimed at children. And I understand that there was an effort made to mandate that the NRA curriculum be used for the lower grades.
BOLLIER: Yes. And that legislation is still around. We have changed the legal age that someone can carry on campus. It passed in the House to move it down to 18. But we did add in on the House side as well the requirement to actually have training. The bill hasn't come to the Senate yet. I will tell you that, personally, I have Senate Bill 390 that is an extreme risk protection order. It is a way to say if law enforcement finds and knows that there's someone that either - there's a domestic violence issue or a possible suicide, this would give instructions on how you could legally remove with judge's orders temporarily a gun so that you would get out of the extreme risk time and prevent a death and make it so that people have a chance to say, yes, you can keep your gun, but right now, you shouldn't have your gun.
MARTIN: Well, I mean, it sounds to me as though you're still on a one step forward, two steps back kind of mindset there. Do you have any advice for colleagues in other states who are trying to, you know, keep in this?
BOLLIER: Yeah. The advice absolutely is don't stop trying because we are supposed to be a government of the people. And the people are crying out to us as government leaders to do something that's reasonable. And as long as you have politicians who are backed with millions of dollars from the NRA directly and indirectly, we're going to have a problem. So you have to make that a primary issue of why you're determining that you're voting or not voting for someone, whatever it is your issue is. This is a critical one in this country, and we need to wake up about it.
MARTIN: That's State Senator Barbara Bollier. She is a Republican. She's serving in Kansas. And we reached her in her office in Topeka. Senator, thank you so much for speaking with us.
BOLLIER: Thank you for having me. And let's hope something can change.
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