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Guns bad; knives good

With the new fiscal year underway for the state of Kansas, public sector officials still are figuring out how best to implement the Legislature's wishes for concealed firearms.

By now, stewards of public buildings either are planning to spend small fortunes to better fortress their buildings, have applied for an extension, or simply are resigned to allow licensed concealed carry firearms onto the premises.

Along the way to expanding where guns could be carried legally, somebody brought a knife. More accurately, the knife lobby expanded the Second Amendment rationale long used by groups such as the National Rifle Association. Claiming the right to bear arms does not exclusively belong to the firearms industry, state lawmakers were lobbied to remove the ban on switchblades, double-edged daggers, dirks, combat knives, bowie knives, stilettos, cutlasses and pocketknives with blades longer than 4 inches.

The lobbying by a national organization called Knife Rights was effective. Legislators passed a uniform state law for knives that Gov. Sam Brownback signed. It went into effect July 1.

The new law prohibits municipalities "from regulating the transportation, possession, carrying, sales, transfers, purchases, gifting, licensing, registration, or uses of a knife or knife-making components." School districts, jails and juvenile correctional facilities are exempted from the definition of municipalities in this case.

It appears a double standard is in play. At least with firearms, municipalities have the option of banning them from public places that are fortified and secure. It might cost millions of taxpayer dollars to get there, but the option exists.

Not so with knives. Overnight, Kansas became one of the nation's blade-friendliest states.

"In terms of knife law, Kansas is darn near perfect now," said Todd Rathner, a lobbyist for Knife Rights.

Darn near perfect. Rathner should know. Knife Rights is committed to giving "knife and edged-tool owners an effective voice to influence public policy" nationwide. The group considers carrying a blade a civil right for Americans. We're not sure we would go that far.

We do understand the convenience certain switchblades have for emergency workers, farmers and others who need to open their knife while holding something in the other hand. And we've always believed the threat of pocketknife-wielding youths was a tad overstated.

But it's simply hypocritical for legislators to force local officials to spend millions of taxpayer dollars securing public buildings in order to keep out handguns -- while at the same time allowing daggers through the same entrance.

The logic of the legislative intent escapes us. This shouldn't surprise, for Kansans did not witness many signs of logic or reasoning during the entire session.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net