Kansas CC Update (Tuesday 3/14, NOT Wednesday as Originally Posted)
Weapons measure returns
By DAVID KLEPPER
The Star’s Topeka correspondent
“This will give Kansans the choice to have the means to protect themselves.”
Sen. Phil Journey
TOPEKA — The Kansas Legislature is poised to send another concealed-weapons law to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.
The House gave the proposal an initial endorsement Monday. A final vote is set for today. The measure will almost certainly pass, but the question is whether enough House members will band together to block an expected veto from the governor. The bill has already passed the Senate by a comfortable margin.
Senate Bill 418 would allow Kansans over 21 who pass a background check and undergo training to carry a concealed handgun in public. Convicted felons, or those with a criminal history of drug use, domestic violence or multiple DUIs would be barred.
Permit holders would not be allowed to carry their weapons inside schools, bars, sporting events, government buildings and, in the version of the bill passed by the House, places of worship. Private businesses could prohibit concealed weapons if they placed a sign at the entrance.
Missouri has a concealed-weapons law, as do 45 other states.
Kansas lawmakers repeatedly have passed similar measures, which have then met with a veto — in 2004 by Sebelius, a Democrat, and in 1997 by Gov. Bill Graves, a Republican.
Although she said she won’t make a firm decision until the bill crosses her desk, Sebelius said Monday she has concerns about the proposal. Sebelius said she was pleased to support giving concealed-weapons permits to retired law enforcement officers. But she said she can’t ignore the businesses, law enforcement groups and local officials who fear an uptick in gun violence.
Two thirds of both chambers must vote to override a gubernatorial veto. Sen. Phil Journey, a Haysville Republican and the architect of the bill, said he’s confident he’ll have the votes to overrule Sebelius.
“This will give Kansans the choice to have the means to protect themselves,” he said.
If the bill is made law, estimates are that within five years, about 20,000 Kansans will apply for the permits.
Both sides of the issue come armed with studies that they say back up their point. Gun-rights groups such as the National Rifle Association argue that states with concealed-weapons laws see a reduction in violent crime.
Organizations such as the Violence Policy Center maintain that concealed-weapons laws can lead to vigilantism.
Gun policy researcher David Kopel said concealed-weapons laws have been passed in most states with very little effect, and that most of the dire warnings offered by critics are unfounded.
“If you push the data around enough, you can make it say what you want,” said Kopel, a researcher at Colorado’s Independence Institute and a former instructor at New York University’s law school. “They’re doing it in Missouri, and it’s OK. They’re doing it in Oklahoma, and it’s OK. They’re doing it in Florida, and even they’re OK.”
Still, a number of law enforcement groups, including the Lenexa and the Overland Park police departments, and local chambers of commerce oppose the proposal.
And several lawmakers say they have no problem with Kansas being one of only four states to prohibit all concealed weapons.
“There’s no doubt that somewhere down the road, somebody in this state is going to be carrying and they’re going to think they’re protected,” said Rep. Jim Yonally, an Overland Park Republican. “They’re going to wind up being dead.”
On the Web
The bill is S.B. 418. The bill’s text and explanation are available on the Internet at www.kslegislature.org