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Gun Control Advocate Raises Questions About Kansas Concealed Carry Gun Policy

Alex Smith
Joshua Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, proposed methods for reducing gun violence in Kansas at KU Medical Center on Monday.

As the nation grapples with the weekend mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, one of the country’s leading advocates for gun control offered some advice to the state of Kansas.

Joshua Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, spoke to health care providers, educators and medical students at the University of Kansas Medical Center on Monday, laying out a proposal to create temporary gun restrictions as a way to reduce gun violence.

He said special considerations are needed when someone is experiencing a crisis and may be at risk for dangerous behavior.

“Those things can pass. But while you’re at an elevated risk, the process is let’s make sure we try to do the best to protect your own life and those of the community,” Horwitz said.

Horwitz’s appearance at KU Medical Center had been scheduled before the shooting in Orlando.

His proposal would allow temporary restrictions based on input from family and friends, as well as based on involuntary commitments due to a mental health crisis or convictions for drug, alcohol or violence-related offenses.

Horwitz said such restrictions might prevent shootings like the one that happened in Orlando.

“Someone who is repeatedly abusing their spouse, and that their coworker expected them to commit a mass shooting, is someone who, if you could put the facts together and bring them before a judge, could be someone who’d be a good candidate for this,” Horwitz said.

Horwitz also expressed doubts about Kansas’s gun policies, which will require public universities by July 2017 to allow anyone to carry a concealed handgun on campus, unless every door has metal detectors and security guards.

“You’re going to have people who may or may not have background checks, who may or may not have been vetted by law enforcement, so you’re really into a new territory right now. I mean it’s hard to imagine that would make it more safe,” Horwitz said.

He pointed to studies such as one published in 2014 by researchers at Stanford and Johns Hopkins universities, showing that concealed-carry laws have either increased violence or had no effect on overall safety.

A KU spokesperson said the school is working to make the campus as safe as possible as it prepares for the new policy to take effect.

Alex Smith is a reporter for KCUR, a partner in the Heartland Health Monitor team. You can reach him on Twitter @AlexSmithKCUR

As a health care reporter, I aim to empower my audience to take steps to improve health care and make informed decisions as consumers and voters. I tell human stories augmented with research and data to explain how our health care system works and sometimes fails us. Email me at alexs@kcur.org.
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