Monday, October 20, 2014

Speaker: Kansas gun rights under fire

By BOBBY BURCH, Herald Staff Writer | 3/4/2013

The Franklin County Republican Central Committee is locked, loaded and ready to offer area residents more information regarding the Second Amendment.

As part of a special informative meeting, the committee partnered with The Gun Guys to invite Patricia Stoneking, Kansas State Rifle Association president, to speak 7 p.m. Thursday at Celebration Hall, 220 W. 17th St., Ottawa.

The Franklin County Republican Central Committee is locked, loaded and ready to offer area residents more information regarding the Second Amendment.

As part of a special informative meeting, the committee partnered with The Gun Guys to invite Patricia Stoneking, Kansas State Rifle Association president, to speak 7 p.m. Thursday at Celebration Hall, 220 W. 17th St., Ottawa.

“There’s been a lot of discussion about the Second Amendment, and people have a lot of questions on what it’s all about,” Cathy McClay, vice chair of the Franklin County Republican Central Committee, said. “So we felt like, instead of people just assuming things, that we’d invite her to come and talk about what’s going on in Kansas and for her to answer questions about gun laws and to talk about Second Amendment rights.”

Stoneking, who has served as the 85-year-old organization’s president for nearly six years, said she plans to discuss the Second Amendment, as well as state and federal legislation relating to guns. Among some specific measures to be discussed, Stoneking said, she’ll address the Second Amendment Protection Act, HB 2199, a bill now making its way through the Kansas House.

“The bill is intended to protect Kansas’ citizens from what we believe to be an overreaching federal government,” Stoneking, a registered lobbyist in Kansas, said Monday.

In the past few years, Stoneking said, the Kansas State Rifle Association has grown to become a more politically involved organization. Certain groups, she said, are hoping to suppress Kansans’ Constitutional rights — action that has prompted the state rifle association to become more involved in the legislative process.

“We were not always actively involved in legislation and in politics,” Stoneking, 57, said, noting the organization has been involved in legislative advocacy since 2005, said. “The need is about the fact that we have some people — albeit in Kansas the minority — who believe that the U.S. Constitution is irrelevant. They don’t feel the need to adhere to the Second Amendment.”

“Our work is to protect that right for every Kansas citizen,” Stoneking said. “We think that is an important mission.”

Discussion about citizens’ rights to own firearms appears to be particularly relevant now, as more Kansans than ever have active concealed carry permits. For the second month in a row, Kansas has set a record for the number of applications for concealed carry permits, according to the Kansas Attorney General’s Office. For February, the office reported it received 3,573 applications for concealed carry permits, breaking the previous one-month record of 3,167 applications set in January.

Additionally, Kansas appears to be on its way toward breaking the per-year record for concealed carry permits. Through the first seven months of the 2013 fiscal year, the attorney general’s office has received 11,426 concealed carry applications; only 982 applications were taken when the per-year record was set in the 2012 fiscal year. As of March, 153,180 Kansans have an active concealed carry permit, according to the Associated Press.

Stoneking, who is a certified concealed carry instructor, said she personally has seen the popularity of such classes rapidly grow. The surge in popularity for concealed carry classes has drawn people from all walks of life, she said, noting that her classes have an assortment of participants.

“It is a very diverse group,” Stoneking said. “We’re seeing a lot more of the 20- and 30-somethings taking classes, whereas is seemed that it was pretty much the 40- to 65-year-old group. We’re also seeing more older people. ... And over the last few years, we’ve seen a lot more women than before.”

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