by Mary Rupert
One hundred fifty years of cities regulating firearms was taken away this week.
With a new law signed by Gov. Sam Brownback, persons will be able to openly carry firearms despite local city ordinances, beginning July 1, 2014.
“Get ready, because people are going to be able to walk around here with guns, openly,” said Mike Taylor, UG lobbyist.
The Unified Government opposed several parts of the bill, including the open carry of guns on city streets, Taylor said.
“I think that’s a gross disrespect of local control,” Taylor said. “Not all communities are the same. If you’re a ranching, farming county out in western Kansas, it’s one thing, but if you’re Wichita or Topeka or KCK, it’s a whole different kind of environment, and to have people walking up and down the streets with guns and swords strapped on their hips, it’s crazy.”
No permit at all will be required for open carry of firearms. Concealed carry requires a license, training and a background check. There are still laws in effect against felons carrying guns.
People who have no idea of how to use a gun could get one, strap it on and carry it around loaded, he said. Taylor tried to get an amendment for training, but that was not successful.
Unless a person is threatening someone with a gun, or is a known felon or a known gang member, the police will not be able to stop anyone with a gun, he added.
The state currently has made an issue of exempting itself from federal government mandates such as the Affordable Care Act or environmental regulations, but at the same time it is getting inside the local government workplace and mandating what it can or can’t tell its employees, he said.
“It’s hypocritical, and they don’t see it,” he said.
Besides guns, this new law also expands the state’s prohibition on local laws concerning other weapons, including knives.
The new law even prohibits local governments from implementing, administering or operating a firearms buyback program.
Additionally, the law says that local governments cannot require disclosure by municipal employees who possess concealed carry of handgun licenses.
Taylor said it may have to be researched to see if this provision may take away the UG’s right as an employer to regulate employees carrying guns during their lunch hours or breaks. Currently, the UG policy says employees may have a gun in their car in the parking lot, but they can’t bring it inside the public building or workplace with them.
Persons will not be able to bring a firearm into a public building that is posted in accordance with rules set up by the attorney general.
The new state law also prohibits cities and counties from regulating the sale of firearms by persons who have federal firearms licenses.
The Libertarian Party of Kansas today sent out a news release thanking the governor and Legislature for the new open carry law. Libertarians had challenged the “patchwork of laws” of several local ordinances in cities in Kansas during the past few years.
“Now with the passage of HB2578 all ambiguities for law abiding citizens and law enforcement are gone,” the Libertarian news release stated.
To read the HB 2578 bill summary or the law, visit http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2013_14/measures/hb2578/