Saturday, October 25, 2014

New concealed carry law does little for ‘protection’

12/24/2013

The last thing most people want to think about during the holiday season is guns, but firearms soon will be front and center for Kansas legislators during the coming session as a new law allowing concealed carry guns in public buildings shows up in earnest for lawmakers at the Statehouse. The duplicitous nature of this law is evident in the Capitol being exempt from allowing guns on its premises, unless they are in the possession of lawmakers with a state concealed carry permit.

Earlier this year, Kansas lawmakers attempted to solve a problem that didn’t exist — namely, Kansans’ alleged desire to carry their weapons (complete with a concealed carry permit) into public buildings. Local governments had the prerogative to gain an exemption initially from the “Personal and Family Protection Act,” which went into effect July 1, and then to obtain a four-year extension on that exemption while they figured out their newly mandated security plan for public buildings (schools were omitted from the requirement). Many units of government, such as Franklin County and the City of Ottawa, are taking advantage of that exemption and extension rather than paying what promises to be a minimum of $80,000 to secure just one building — Ottawa’s City Hall. If it sounds senseless to secure facilities just so concealed carry can occur in them, that’s only because it is.

The last thing most people want to think about during the holiday season is guns, but firearms soon will be front and center for Kansas legislators during the coming session as a new law allowing concealed carry guns in public buildings shows up in earnest for lawmakers at the Statehouse. The duplicitous nature of this law is evident in the Capitol being exempt from allowing guns on its premises, unless they are in the possession of lawmakers with a state concealed carry permit.

Earlier this year, Kansas lawmakers attempted to solve a problem that didn’t exist — namely, Kansans’ alleged desire to carry their weapons (complete with a concealed carry permit) into public buildings. Local governments had the prerogative to gain an exemption initially from the “Personal and Family Protection Act,” which went into effect July 1, and then to obtain a four-year extension on that exemption while they figured out their newly mandated security plan for public buildings (schools were omitted from the requirement). Many units of government, such as Franklin County and the City of Ottawa, are taking advantage of that exemption and extension rather than paying what promises to be a minimum of $80,000 to secure just one building — Ottawa’s City Hall. If it sounds senseless to secure facilities just so concealed carry can occur in them, that’s only because it is.

Franklin County, as well as the other 104 counties in the Sunflower State, is filled with offenders of one sort or another. Each of those offenders has friends and relatives who carry a grudge and some might even have concealed carry permits to rectify a perceived wrong. While many may assume the majority of homicides in the U.S. occur in gang-related incidents, that isn’t the case. In fact, less than half of homicide incidents result from victims and offenders who are unknown to each other, according to a 2012 FBI Uniform Crime Report. Instead most happen because of an argument with someone the victim knows, such as a friend, relative, co-worker, neighbor or acquaintance.

    Kansas’ new law doesn’t do one thing to strengthen Second Amendment rights and worsens the potential use and safety of many public facilities, such as swimming pools, libraries, recreation facilities and others simply because no one objected vehemently enough to the legislation. In fact, many municipalities objected to the legislation only to have it passed in a modified way later. The bill’s “adequate” security clause forces local units of government to install metal detectors, hire security guards or law enforcement personnel or some other costly strategy to meet the criteria of the new law.

Kansas legislators should rescind this rule and allow local governments to do what local elected officials think is appropriate to secure their buildings without unnecessary intrusion from the state. If lawmakers in Topeka want to allow guns on the premises where they spend their days, fine, but there’s no reason to impose that kind of madness on units of local government. With as much infighting that goes on in Topeka from within the same party, which some characterize as eating their own, it’s difficult to comprehend why anyone would want political ideologues who fight incessantly with words to add a gun as yet another weapon in their arsenal on whatever the issue of the day might be.

Expanded gun rights in this manner do nothing but cost taxpayers more money to protect themselves from people who rightfully possess both guns and concealed carry permits. This shouldn’t be a battle local municipalities are forced to face. If state lawmakers want the right to pop off at each other, so be it, but they should leave the rest of us out of the shootout.

— Jeanny Sharp,

editor and publisher

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