We must do more

On Monday, parents in the Lawrence school district were notified that a threat of violence was made – through social media – towards a local high school. That situation is being handled by local law enforcement, but this threat comes as our hearts remain broken for the families impacted by the horrific shootings in Parkland, Florida.

Whether in Lawrence or Parkland, or anywhere else, our children shouldn’t be afraid to go to school. Parents shouldn’t fear dropping their kids off in the morning. And teachers shouldn’t feel threatened while in the classroom.

It’s times like this when we must reflect on what more we can do to ensure our children and teachers are safe at school and in our communities.

I’ve always been a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment and my voting record backs that up. I believe Kansans have the right to purchase firearms to keep their families safe and hunt. I’ll continue to fight to defend those rights – it’s part of our rural heritage. But we must balance that with the safety of our children.

Clearly, we can respect and defend the rights of Kansas gun owners, while also taking effective steps to keep our children and families safe.

In recent years, the issue has changed. It’s not only a discussion of conceal carry and hunting rights, it is about school shootings and assault weapons. That’s why I voted to keep guns out of places we all know they shouldn’t be –public hospitals, mental health centers and college campuses. We must also take more aggressive steps to make sure guns don’t get into the wrong hands. And, that’s why this legislative session, I plan to vote for a bill that makes it illegal for anyone convicted of domestic violence to possess a gun.

I believe it’s especially important for those of us who support gun rights to lead this fight to find common sense ways to keep our kids and teachers safe from gun violence. I will work to implement gun safety standards – like requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning bump stocks, and limiting access to the types of assault weapons that were designed for combat zones.

We must move beyond the same partisan divides on this issue. As Governor, I will do that. I’ll bring everyone together – law enforcement officials, school officials, mental health experts, parents – to find common ground and meaningful solutions to this problem.

Right now, we simply must do more. We can’t simply continue to do nothing and expect the violence to stop.