Kansas leader criticized over ‘red shirts’ remark

Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick is drawing criticism from the state’s largest teachers union for saying he was uncomfortable with groups of people in red shirts at the Statehouse.

The Kansas National Education Association said Friday that Merrick was clearly referring to protests during the legislative session against a measure ending guaranteed tenure for public school teachers.

Dozens of teachers wore red T-shirts, packing galleries and hallways.

But the House speaker said Friday that he referring to British redcoats during the American Revolution, and misspoke.

Merrick made the comment Thursday in response to reporters’ questions about whether a new policy allowing concealed guns at the Statehouse would make some visitors uncomfortable.

The Stilwell Republican said he was alluding to the history behind guarantees of the right to bear arms.