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Opposition arises to guns in Kan. public buildings

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- A bill proposed in the Kansas House would require governments to allow concealed weapons in public buildings or provide adequate security measures such as metal detectors or security guards, as well as override local ordinances that outlaw open carry of firearms.

Currently, state, county and city governments can ban concealed weapons simply by posting a sign on its building.

Gun rights advocates told the House Federal and State Affairs Committee Monday that policy makes public buildings easy targets for criminals, The Lawrence Journal-World reported (http://bit.ly/13iJo9Z ).

"Posting the no-carry sign is tantamount to placing a bulls-eye on that facility," said Patricia Stoneking, president of the Kansas State Rifle Association.

And Al Terwelp, state chair of the Kansas Libertarian Party, said the measure was needed "to help protect law enforcement and law-abiding citizens who choose to exercise their Second Amendment rights in Kansas."

But representatives of cities, counties and other groups opposed the measure, saying it would be expensive to implement and overrides local control of decisions on gun regulations.

"It is a massive unfunded mandate on local governments and the citizens they represent," said Mike Taylor, a spokesman for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City. "The bill crushes local control and nullifies decision making by locally elected officials."

He said it would cost more than $2 million to install all the necessary security measures at the Unified Government's municipal buildings, making it so burdensome that "many cities and counties will have no choice but to allow the carrying of concealed weapons into City Hall, recreation centers and other public buildings because they can't afford to do otherwise."

Representatives of Lenexa, Wichita, Johnson County and the Kansas Association of Counties also testified against the bill. The Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas, the umbrella group for the state's 27 health centers, as well as the association serving 35 local community corrections offices, requested an exemption from the proposal, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported (http://bit.ly/XDPYkw ).

And Chris Mechler, court services officer with the Kansas Office of Judicial Administration in Topeka, testified that only 12 of the state's 110 courthouses and none of the 25 court-related office buildings had the required security measures.

The Kansas Board of Regents has opposed allowing concealed weapons on campuses but is neutral on this bill because it authorizes the governing board of each university to decide whether to be exempted from the legislation, said Andy Tompkins, chief executive officer and president of the regents.