CORRECTION: This story originally stated that Watkins Health Center was exempt from concealed carry under the bill, but it was later decided that Watkins was not fully exempt. The story has been changed to reflect this.
After Gov. Sam Brownback allowed a bill exempting medical facilities from concealed carry to become law, medical centers in the area have expressed their satisfaction with the result.
The new law grants a permanent exemption to state hospitals, other public hospitals, community mental health centers, publicly owned nursing homes and indigent clinics. It also allows the University of Kansas Health System and the university's adjacent medical school in Kansas City, Kansas, to ban concealed guns.
At the University’s Medical Center, Bob Page, the president and chief executive officer of the University of Kansas Health System, said in a video that he was grateful for the bill becoming law and what it does for the healthcare industry.
“By allowing this to become law, it will allow us to continue to do what we’ve been doing which is to keep weapons out of our organizations, and it will allow us to have the same playing field as all of the community hospitals that are not public facilities,” he said.
Page highlighted this bill becoming law was the result of combined efforts from the governor, legislature and a coalition of organizations.
The House approved the measure on a 91-33 vote Thursday evening, just hours after the Senate passed it. The measure will now go to Gov. Sam Brownback.
In 2013, when the concealed carry bill was passed, a four-year exemption was granted to public health facilities and universities, which expires on July 1. With this new bill, public health facilities were granted a permanent exemption.
The new bill allows them to permanently ban concealed carry without expensive security upgrades.
For David Johnson, Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center chief executive officer, it was important that this bill became law for the center to continue with their work.
“It means [the center] would continue to be a safe environment not only for our patients, but for our staff as well,” he said before the bill was officially finalized.
Because of safety concerns, Bert Nash and other agencies that occupy the Community Health Facility are working with the city and county to help them fund security measures for the building.
Johnson said the passage of this bill will save them from implementing the security measures the legislature requires for buildings to ban concealed carry.
Page shared his satisfaction with continuing the work in health facilities.
“We’re happy that this has now become law and we can move on to the next challenges that we have in healthcare,” he said in the video.
Administrators at the University’s Medical Center are working to gain an exemption from the state law that will allow concealed carry in all public spaces starting in July.
Watkins Health Center will be partially exempt from concealed carry under the bill as well. Weapons are allowed in the facility, but are not to be carried during treatment or medical procedures.
Lawrence Memorial Hospital also could not be reached for comment.