TOPEKA, (KSNT) — Democrats across the country are calling for gun reform, including lawmakers in Kansas.
Representative JoElla Hoye, Democrat of Lenexa and former leader of the Moms Demand Action chapter, told the Kansas Capitol Office in an interview Friday that she plans to work over the summer to prepare legislation for the upcoming session.
“We must come together and take action to keep our children and our families safe,” Hoye said. “We have people in America dying every day from preventable gun violence.”
Hoye championed a bill last year that would have required domestic abusers to surrender their guns to law enforcement upon court order. The bill got a hearing in a Senate committee this year. She’s working on getting it on the next session line.
The bill would enforce current gun laws in the state that prevent certain people who have been convicted of domestic violence offenses or are subject to domestic violence protection orders from acquiring and to legally possess firearms.
LaTonya Boyd, who also volunteers with the Moms Demand Action group in Topeka, recounted the loss of her daughter, Tyesha McNair, in 2009. Boyd’s daughter was a victim of domestic violence, who was shot and killed by the father of her children after leaving the relationship.
Since then, Boyd has made several trips to the state Capitol, urging lawmakers to pass gun reform legislation.
“It’s frustrating when I come here and nothing really gets done,” Boyd said. “They talk about the language of these bills…but what about the lives of these women and children who are suffering, waiting for the language to be changed.”
“Our elected officials can stop this…or at least slow it down,” Boyd continued.
BAN “GHOST WEAPONS”
A Democratic lawmaker has also introduced a bill to ban ghost weapons in the state, following a school shooting at Olathe East High School in March. Sen. Cindy Holscher, D-Overland Park, who introduced the bill, said she had “horrible” memories of the day as she waited to hear her son was okay.
According to the Johnson County prosecutor, the shooter used a “ghost gun,” an untraceable firearm that is usually assembled by the user. There has been no movement on the bill this legislative session.
In an interview shortly after the bill was introduced, Sen. Rob Olson, a Republican from Olathe who chairs the state Senate’s Federal and State Affairs Committee, said he wasn’t sure. to support the measure.
“The perpetrator broke a few laws to do what he did,” Olson said. “Another restriction is not going to stop it. I mean, it was posted on the school front door not to carry firearms in school, and he did it anyway.
NRA GUN SAFETY TRAINING PROGRESS
Two weeks after the Olathe East High School shooting, the state Senate’s Federal and State Affairs Committee approved a bill authorizing gun safety training in schools. Senate Bill 522 would require the State Board of Education to establish guidelines for a standardized gun safety education program that includes accident prevention.
For kindergarten and first through fifth graders, the program would be based on the “Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program” offered by the National Rifle Association. Students in grades six through eight would also have this program option, or a hunting program offered to high school students through the Department of Wildlife and Parks.
The bill was not introduced this session, but has been defeated in the past. Senator Olson said he hoped it would help teach children about safety, especially at a young age.
“It’s a good bill…It teaches young people about gun safety and what to do if there’s a gun out there…go tell someone.” a…go tell an adult,” Olson said.
Some Democrats and opponents have argued that the language of the bill should specify that instructors cannot bring weapons to class.
‘GUN REFORM’: UNIVERSAL BACKGROUND CHECK, CONCEALED CARRIAGE AGE, ASSAULT WEAPON BAN
While some laws have stalled, Kansas lawmakers have passed laws lowering the age of concealed carry in the state to 18. Gun control activists have criticized the move, arguing that the age is too young to own guns.
On Thursday, US President Joe Biden called for gun reform, including calling on Congress to ban assault weapons or raise the age to buy one from 18 to 21.
“If we can’t ban assault weapons, we should raise the age to buy them from 18 to 21,” Biden said.
Biden’s speech follows recent mass shootings in the United States. This week, five people died, including the shooter, after a mass shooting at Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was just a week after a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 students and two teachers were killed. In May, 10 people were killed in a racist attack at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.
Kansas Democrats are also responding to the latest shootings with action. Echoing Biden’s push nationally, Rep. Hoye said she also plans to do background checks on all gun buyers, including unlicensed dealers. Hoye, a gun owner herself, said it was time to implement “common sense” measures.
In Kansas, background checks are required for licensed dealerships. However, there is no law requiring background checks of unlicensed dealers, such as sales at gun shows and online.
“These private sales can take place without background checks,” Hoye said. “I think this should be a common sense measure to protect our children, our families and our communities.”
The Kansas Capitol Office also reached out to Republican leaders on Friday about upcoming bills for the next session, but did not hear back.
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