A bill that will make it easier for carrying guns inside of public buildings such as City Hall is a “Big Brother”-style mandate from the state of Kansas, said a Unified Government spokesman.
The Kansas Senate will be considering bills aimed at making it legal to carry guns into public places. One of the bills has some Kansas City, Kan., leaders concerned. The Unified Government regulates guns here.
Apparently afraid that the federal government will make some new laws restricting guns, the Kansas House passed three gun bills Thursday. The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in January struck a national chord and started a national debate on gun control.
One of the House bills passed Thursday by an 84-38 margin would allow concealed weapons to be carried by permit holders in more public places, such as the Statehouse in Topeka or municipal buildings.
Mike Taylor, a spokesman for the Unified Government, stated, “The bill forcing cities and counties to allow the concealed carry of guns in public buildings (HB 2055) is another Washington-style, Big Brother, big government measure by the Kansas Legislature.
“The Unified Government believes in local control, letting the government and citizens closest to the issue decide what's best for their own community. This bill is the Kansas Legislature imposing a costly mandate on local governments. A mandate the Unified Government and most cities can't afford to meet, so it is the Legislature forcing its view about where guns should be allowed on the local community.”
At the present time, guns are banned at Kansas City, Kan., City Hall, and there are a couple of staffed checkpoints and metal detectors. But the city also has a number of other properties and facilities that are not staffed.
The bill would allow employees with concealed carry permits to carry concealed guns into municipal buildings that do not have “adequate security” measures and signs at each public entrance. Under the bill, guns could only be banned if there was “adequate security” including staff and electronic devices such as metal detectors at the entrance, along with a sign banning guns.
Taylor said the bill would impose a costly mandate on local governments, which might be allowed to ban guns only if they set up security checkpoints with metal detectors and security guards at every entrance to the building. Since the UG and most cities can’t afford to do this with every building, it is the Legislature forcing its view about where guns should be allowed on the local community, Taylor said.
“It’s ironic that legislators who rail against the federal government for imposing mandates on the state, won’t think twice about doing the same thing to local communities,” he said. “The issue of whether guns should be allowed in City Hall, the Courthouse and community centers should be decided locally, not mandated by the Kansas Legislature.”
Some of those who support concealed carry being extended to municipal buildings believe that banning guns in public places does not protect people who work there.
According to Patricia Stoneking of Bonner Springs, the president of the Kansas State Rifle Association, "Restrictive gun laws do not prevent determined perpetrators from getting their hands on guns and those signs prohibiting concealed carry do not prevent criminals from entering the premises, but they do prevent law-abiding citizens from having the tools to defend themselves. I would ask that you consider that signs may make some people feel safer but they actually do not make them safer and in fact do just the opposite. One recent case in point is the Aurora, Colo., spree shooter. You may not be aware that he bypassed two theaters that were not posted to arrive at a third theater that was posted where he perpetrated his heinous crime.
"We need to understand that criminals will not abide by the law or the signs," Stoneking stated. "Those signs are disarming only law abiding permit licensees. In fact, we need to recognize that posting such a sign only indicates to the criminal that they have an easy location to perpetrate their crimes and that no one will have the ability to challenge them or protect themselves at that location.
"Those who are opposed can talk about how they have armed security on the premises but when they are at the other end of a building they cannot possibly stop that criminal from perpetrating his crime," she stated. "The only logical and best chance is to allow those who choose to, carry their firearms so they can take immediate action."
She added that opponents of concealed carry said in 2006 that there would be a return to the Wild West, with people shooting each other over parking places, but none of those predictions has taken place, and those who hold concealed carry permits have been law-abiding.
The bill excludes school districts, but it also would authorize schools to allow certain designated employees to carry concealed guns.
There were some exemptions passed with this bill on Thursday, according to State Rep. Valdenia Winn, D-34th Dist. She said that state hospitals, community mental health centers, adult care homes, clinics and postsecondary schools, if they request it, will have a four-year exemption from this law. She added that she was able to get a provision passed to exempt the state School for the Blind in Kansas City, Kan., and the School for the Deaf in Olathe.
“They’re more intent on hearing the rhetoric of protecting Second Amendment rights than to be concerned about loss of human life,” Rep. Winn said about those who were in favor of the bill.
The debate seemed to focus more on Second Amendment rights and protecting them, she added.
The state experienced an increase of thousands of people applying for concealed-carry permits in the first few months of the year, according to a state spokesman.
Part of the bill reads, “The legislature finds as a matter of public policy and fact that it is necessary to provide statewide uniform standards for issuing licenses to carry concealed handguns for self-defense and finds it necessary to occupy the field of regulation of the bearing of concealed handguns for self-defense to ensure that no honest, law-abiding person who qualifies under the provisions of this act is subjectively or arbitrarily denied the person's rights. No city, county or other political subdivision of this state shall regulate, restrict or prohibit the carrying of concealed handguns by persons licensed under this act,” except for the exceptions mentioned in the bill.
Some local officials in their meetings previously expressed the feeling that people who would carry guns into public meetings, City Hall or courthouses could be trying to intimidate public officials.
At the beginning of the year, there were more than 1,900 people in Wyandotte County holding concealed-carry permits, according to officials.
Kansas City, Kan., Wichita, Overland Park, Lenexa, and the League of Kansas Municipalities were among the opponents of the gun bill.
Another bill passed by the House says the federal government cannot regulate guns that are made and sold in Kansas, and that no one, federal, state or local authorities, can enforce any federal gun regulations in Kansas.
A Legislative Research supplemental note on this bill, HB 2199, stated that budget division estimates, based on information from the state attorney general, were that the cost of defending legal challenges to this bill could be about $25,000 in fiscal year 2013, $100,000 to $350,000 in fiscal year 2014, and $100,000 in fiscal year 2015. If the state loses, the costs could be higher.
A third bill makes it illegal to recklessly discharge a firearm in the city limits.
This bill, HB 2052, makes it illegal to discharge a firearm within city limits of any city. According to a supplemental note from the Legislative Research Department, the bill also has exemptions, including the lawful defense of a person or property; shooting at a supervised or private range; lawful taking of wildlife, including nuisance wildlife, unless prohibited by the Department of Wildlife and the government body of the city; by law enforcement or animal control officers in the line of duty; with a special permit issued by the chief of police; using blanks; and in defense against an animal attack.