Kansas Lawmakers Considering Bill To Lower The Minimum Age For Concealed Carry
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Today, President Trump met with governors from around the country. They talked about gun laws, among other things.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We have to have action. We don't have any action. It happens. A week goes by. Let's keep talking. Another week goes by. We keep talking. Two months go by. All of a sudden, everybody's off to the next subject.
SHAPIRO: Kansas governor Jeff Colyer is a Republican who was in that meeting and joins us now.
JEFF COLYER: It's good to be with you.
SHAPIRO: There were governors of both parties in that White House meeting. And I wonder if you came away feeling that there was any kind of a consensus on what sort of action is needed right now.
COLYER: I think the idea is that every state has a different solution and a different situation. And it's - particularly goes down to the local level. So what is needed in western Kansas may be very different than what is needed in another state. And I like that pragmatism, and that's what you were hearing from governors - is that they had a lot of different ideas that we were sharing with each other not only on this issue, but on other issues, as well.
SHAPIRO: Interesting that you say it comes down to the local level because I know that a number of states, including Florida, where the shooting took place, have statewide laws saying that cities and counties cannot pass gun restrictions that go beyond state law. Do you think that needs to change?
COLYER: No. I think where Kansas is, we're dealing with our situation in our state. And how those other states want to deal with it - that's their decision.
SHAPIRO: Which of the many proposals on the table do you think are appropriate for Kansas right now? There's been talk about arming teachers, strengthening schools, building mental health institutions - a lot of different conversations - raising the age to purchase weapons, banning bump stocks, et cetera.
COLYER: You know, one of the things that is working well in our state and that we've had a few instances - but it was a local solution, and that is a school that is dedicated to kids with mental health issues that - if they are in a crisis situation, they can be diverted into that school either for a short or a longer period of time. And what we're finding is that those kids get a better educational experience, and it also takes them out of the main classroom experience of disrupting that classroom. But when they can return, they can. And what we found is that over the last 20 years, we've seen some of these schools grow up in different communities. It was a local solution, and it's one that I think is really important in the long run for kids with mental health issues.
SHAPIRO: So that's a solution that focuses on education and mental health. Do you think there're any steps that Kansas ought to take right now involving guns?
COLYER: You know, right now, the legislature is looking at a variety of different issues. Our main emphasis, though, is, what kind of local solutions can we have that are dealt with on a local level?
SHAPIRO: So nothing involving guns right now that you would like to see, whether that's limiting purchases or arming teachers or anything in between.
COLYER: No. I don't see a specific, statewide thing to do.
SHAPIRO: There's a bill that's already cleared one chamber of the Kansas state Legislature that would lower the age to carry a weapon from 21 to 18. Much of the country is talking about moving the age limit in the other direction. Do you think this is something that Kansas is likely to do?
COLYER: The Legislature's making that consideration. Here's the thing - is - the bottom line is, if you're old enough to serve in the U.S. military, then I think having that Second Amendment rights should not be denied to you.
SHAPIRO: Do you think that's out of step with where the rest of the country is moving at this moment?
COLYER: I don't know.
SHAPIRO: On this program, we have lately been saying there is a national conversation going on about gun violence. And there's certainly a conversation in Washington, and there's a conversation in Florida, but I wonder if, from where you sit in Topeka, Kan., whether there is also a conversation about gun violence happening right now.
COLYER: There is a conversation that's happening about gun violence. It's not as loud as the national one. People are talking about these issues on their local level and what they see as their issues in their community. And I think that's very appropriate of what is going on in Topeka or what is going on in Kansas City or Garden City. In Kansas, we're talking about a broad range of issues that affect people with disabilities, with mental illness and a variety of things. And I'm very excited because people are working on these issues. They're working with their neighbors. And we really believe in service in Kansas, and that service - it extends in a lot of different ways. And I'm just very gratified because it's part of the Kansas spirit. And I think that's one of our opportunities of how we can go forward as a state.
SHAPIRO: Governor Jeff Colyer of Kansas. Thanks so much for your time.
COLYER: It's great to be with you.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.