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Minutes for HCR5020 - Committee on Federal and State Affairs

Short Title

Proposing a constitutional amendment to amend section 4 of the Kansas bill of rights to recognize the right to bear arms as a fundamental right that includes the possession and use of ammunition, firearm accessories and firearm components, and that any restrictions on such right are subject to the strict scrutiny standard.

Minutes Content for Tue, Jan 23, 2024

The Chair opened the hearing on HCR5020.

Representative Hoye asked the Research Department to research how much it has cost other states in defending their strict scrutiny standards. 

Chairperson Carpenter recognized Attorney General Kris Kobach as a proponent of the bill (Attachment 1).  He stated that the proposed constitutional amendment would complement the Second Amendment protections under New York State Rifle and Pistol Assn. v. Bruen, giving Kansas gun owners more constitutional protection.  The constitutional right to keep and bear arms in Kansas would be expanded in two ways.  First, under the Kansas Constitution, the strict scrutiny test could be applied in addition to the historical tradition test of the Second Amendment.  Second, the Kansas Constitution would expressly protect accessories, ammunition and components.  Questions were then asked by various members of the Committee.

The Chair then recognized Speaker Pro tem Blake Carpenter, who testified in favor of HCR5020 (Attachment 2).  He stated that this resolution explicitly protects ammunition, firearm accessories and components under the constitutional protections.  Moreover, it elevates the right to bear arms to its rightful status as a natural and fundamental right.  Additionally, HCR5020 establishes that any infringement upon this right is subject to strict scrutiny, the highest standard of judicial review, reserved for the most fundamental rights.

Representative Schmoe was recognized as a proponent of HCR5020 (Attachment 3).  She stated that this resolution does not expand government.  What it does is restricts avenues for infringement.  It allows Kansans to have their voice and vote on what they want their state constitution to say regarding their right to keep and bear arms. 

Travis Couture-Lovelady testified on behalf of the National Rifle Association (NRA) as a proponent of HCR5020 (Attachment 4).  He stated that this resolution amends section 4 of the Kansas Bill of Rights to ensure the right to keep and bear arms includes essential tools required to exercise that right and ensures the highest level of legal protection in the Kansas Constitution for this fundamental right.  The NRA strongly supports the passage of this bill.

The Chair recognized Moriah Day as a proponent on behalf of the Kansas State Rifle Association (Attachment 5).  He stated that HCR5020 will ensure that the legal standard of strict scrutiny is applied in cases where an infringement on Second Amendment freedoms is challenged in state court and will guarantee clear recourse to correct those wrongs through our state's legal system.  His association strongly urges the Committee to favorably pass HCR5020.

The Chair noted that there was written proponent testimony from William Hendrix, Capital City Young Republications (Attachment 6); Megan Hilbish (Attachment 7); Darron LaSorte, National Shooting Sports Foundation (Attachment 8); Levi Russell, Ph.D. (Attachment 9); Nick Reinecker (Attachment 10) (Attachment 10A); Aaron Leonard (Attachment 11); Chris McGowne (Attachment12); and Aubrey Omanson (Attachment 13).

Chairperson Carpenter then recognized Rev. Annie Ricker on behalf of Kansas Interfaith Action as an opponent of HCR5020 (Attachment 14).  She stated that HCR5020 could allow convicted felons and domestic abusers to own guns.  When similar amendments were passed in other states, convicted felons and domestic abusers sued for access to guns.  The resolution would also undermine federal government attempts to regulate or eliminate rogue and off-market products, such as armor-piercing bullets, dummy guns, and bump stocks.

Shannon Little of Moms Demand Action was recognized by the Chair as an opponent to HCR5020 (Attachment 15).  She stated that HCR5020 threatens to eliminate some of Kansas' most crucial public safety laws.  It would pave the way for convicted felons and domestic abusers to legally possess firearms in Kansas. It would cause an overflow of lawsuits against the state brought by convicted criminal defendants.  She asked the Committee to reject this amendment.

The Chair recognized Grace Springer who testified as an opponent to the resolution on behalf of Students Demand Action for Gun Sense in America (Attachment 16).  She stated that she was a student at a school where another student entered with a firearm and shot it, injuring three people.  She believes if HCR 5020 is adopted, strict scrutiny would threaten to eliminate Kansas' most crucial public safety laws and make state taxpayers fund the flow of lawsuits that would be bought by criminals.

Claire Reagan testified as an opponent to the resolution  (Attachment 17). She believes that this bill could limit the ability of law enforcement to intervene if convicted felons possess dangerous and illegal devices as well as expand gun access to dangerous individuals, including domestic abusers.  She asked the Committee to vote against this resolution.

The Chair recognized Danielle Twemlow as an opponent to HCR5020 (Attachment 18).  She stated that this resolution could severely restrict future modifications to our state's gun laws. 

Chairperson Carpenter noted that there was written only opponent testimony from the following:  Anna Allen, Moms Demand Action (Attachment 19); Leanna Barclay (Attachment 20); Kristen Blackton (Attachment 21); David Carttar, Moms Demand Action (Attachment 22); Colleen Cunningham (Attachment 23); Ava Gustin (Attachment 24); Amy Hill (Attachment 25); Dr. Dena Hubbard (Attachment 26); Kathy Kappes-Sum (Attachment 27); Sandra Beth Katz-Sherry (Attachment 28); Megan Langford (Attachment 29); Zachary Mallory (Attachment 30); Kathleen Marker (Attachment 31); John & Jocelyn Miller (Attachment 32); Adrienne Newlin (Attachment 33); Claudia Olea (Attachment 34); Claudia Patrick (Attachment 35); Carl Reed (Attachment 36); Melissa Reichmeier (Attachment 37); Dave Webster (Attachment 38); and Amanda Winch (Attachment 39).

There being no further conferees, Chairperson Carpenter closed the hearing on HCR5020.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:22 a.m.