The current framework for the plan includes billions of dollars being set aside for school safety improvements and mental health services. It also aims to provide stronger background checks for people under 21, and offers money to states implementing red-flag laws.
Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall introduced gun legislation to provide money for safer schools last week. On Monday, Marshall sent Kansas Capitol Bureau a statement on the latest negotiations in the Senate.
I support commonsense measures to keep our kids safe in school, which is why I introduced the Safe Schools Act last week to allow the $150 billion of available COVID funds to be used to secure schools in Kansas and throughout the nation. Congress must act to protect kids and harden schools immediately. While we have yet to see legislative text of the latest gun reform negotiations, I can assure Kansans that I will oppose any final bill that infringes on our Second Amendment rights.Senator Roger Marshall, R-Kansas
The bipartisan group of senators working on the legislation includes 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans. This means similar legislation could have a good chance of mustering 60 votes and beating a filibuster on the Senate floor.
If the plan becomes law, states may lose out on opportunities for more money, if they don’t adopt certain parts of the plan. The plan includes money to incentivize states to pass and implement “red flag” laws, which would allow law enforcement to remove guns from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.
Under the proposal, convicted domestic abusers wouldn’t be able to purchase firearms as well. In Kansas, a similar state law bars people convicted of domestic violence from possessing guns within five years after conviction.
Democrats in the Kansas Legislature have also tried to pass legislation to further enforce this law, which would require domestic abusers to relinquish their guns to law enforcement by court order. While the bill has not yet made it to the floor, plans to bring it back next year are underway.
SECOND AMENDMENT CHALLENGES
Kansas also has second amendment protections in place, which have been challenged in the past.
The Kansas Second Amendment Protection Act, SAPA, which was enacted in 2013, declared it “unlawful” for “the government of the United States . . . to enforce or attempt to enforce any act . . . of the government of the United States upon a firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition that is owned or manufactured . . . in the state of Kansas and that remains within [its] borders.”
However, the Act came under scrutiny in 2014, when the government prosecuted two Kansas men, Shane Cox and Jeremy Kettler, for violating the National Firearms Act (NFA) by manufacturing (in Kansas), transferring (in Kansas), and possessing (in Kansas) several unregistered firearms. A jury found them guilty of most, but not all, of the charges.
Cox and Kettler appealed their conviction, challenging the NFA’s constitutionality. They alleged that the statute was an invalid exercise of congressional power and an invasion of the Second Amendment right to bear arms. They also challenged the district court’s ruling that their reliance on SAPA provided no defense to charges that they violated the NFA.
According to an opinion summary, The Tenth Circuit granted Kansas’s request to participate in these appeals as needed to defend the SAPA from a Supremacy Clause challenge. The Tenth Circuit rejected Cox’s and Kettler’s challenges to their convictions, without addressing the SAPA’s constitutionality Federal prosecutors charged both men with felonies. Despite suggested state protections, federal judges ultimately had the final say.
‘COMPREHENSIVE’ BACKGROUND CHECKS
Another part of the new gun agreement at the federal level, includes more review for people under 21 who purchase firearms.
In Kansas, gun reform activists have criticized lawmakers for the state’s generally loose policies. Last year, lawmakers passed a bill lowering the concealed carry age to 18, and expands recognition of other state’s concealed carry permits. Minors in the state can also buy guns with barrels longer than 12 inches.
There’s also no set waiting period in Kansas, after purchasing a firearm and completing a background check. In 2019, a bill that was geared toward implementing a three-day waiting period, died in committee.
The new deal in the U.S. Senate aims to strengthen and provide “comprehensive” background checks. It would allow access to juvenile criminal and mental health records on background checks for people under 21. It’s still unclear how the bill will fare on the House side.
The U.S. House passed a sweeping gun control package last week, largely in party-line votes. However, the new Senate deal is aimed at focusing on changes that both sides of the aisle can agree on.
Kansas U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, echoed calls for action on Capitol Hill, in a statement to Kansas Capitol Bureau on Monday.
“No one should be afraid to send their kids to school, or go to the grocery store or take their family to church. We have seen broad bipartisan support in the past for stronger background checks and red flag laws that keep weapons out of the hands of people who are a danger to themselves and others. I am glad to see the Senate starting from that common ground and will continue to support efforts to get something done because ending the fear and violence, protecting our children—these are not partisan issues.”Rep. Sharice Davids, D-Kansas