It’s one of those strange coincidences that periodically crops up in American politics: In the same week that President Donald Trump fired Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in what is widely believed to have been a response to Murthy’s belief that gun violence be treated as a public health issue, Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas requested $24 million to keep concealed weapons out of the state’s mental hospitals.
In an additional circumstance of irony, a big reason Brownback needs the money is because of a concealed carry law that was passed with his support.
Although Kansas’s concealed carry law will allow guns on college campuses and public hospitals starting on July 1, the law does stipulate that firearms can be kept out of buildings that have armed guards and metal detectors. Now, in an effort to effectively ban concealed weapons from state mental health hospitals ahead of the law’s implementation, Brownback is requesting that state lawmakers designate $810,000 in funding to purchase metal detectors and firearms for security guards at psychiatric hospitals — as well as $11.7 million annually for 180 full-time security guards.
Various state lawmakers in Kansas have reacted to this last-minute request with predictable dismay.
Republican Sen. Vicki Schmidt told the Lawrence Journal-World, “If we’re going to train existing personnel that are not authorized to carry now, they’ll have to get into some training and we’ll have to pay for that before this fiscal year is up.” Similarly, Democratic Sen. Laura Kelly pointed out that “the governor is OK with spending, what, $12 million this year and $11 million ongoing just so we (can’t) have guns on the campuses of our state psychiatric facilities?”