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Hays City Commission to discuss open carry policy

8/6/2014

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT

mkenwright@dailynews.net

Eight months after the Hays City Commission allowed concealed carry of firearms in its buildings, commissioners will debate allowing open carry at its work session at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in city hall.

The Kansas Legislature has given local governments the option to prohibit people from openly carrying guns in municipal buildings. City staff has recommended the commission approve the ban and post signs on 12 facilities stating the policy.

Toby Dougherty, Hays city manager, said city staff would feel more comfortable posting the signs.

"Concealed carry -- there's a permitting process that one has to go through, and it's a rather extensive process to obtain a concealed-carry permit," he said. "There's no such process with open carry. Anybody can carry a legal weapon at any time, according to Kansas state law."

Beyond licensing, there is another difference between the two types of gun possession.

"If it's concealed, 99.99 percent of the time, it's going to stay concealed, and the people around them will never know there's a weapon in their presence," Dougherty said. "Open carry is not concealed. It's there, and we just don't think it's good practice to get into allowing open carry."

Clarifying he was speaking from his perspective and city staff's experience rather than for the commissioners, Dougherty said the Kansas Legislature has presented the city with challenges.

"It's a little frustrating on our part because we have a Legislature in Topeka that loves to tout the virtues of less government and self-control and 'get government off of my back,' and yet they have no problem passing legislation that directly affects us and our ability to do business," he said.

In other business:

* Commissioners will discuss revising the rules regulating the use of portable shipping containers as more permanent storage units. The commission asked the Hays Area Planning Commission to consider changing the policy, but planning commissioners oppose allowing containers to be stacked in industrial areas.

* A $4.50 charge could be added to tickets out of Hays Regional Airport to pay for the facility's projects. If approved, it could be in place by February. Most Kansas airports apply a similar charge, Dougherty said.

* The 2015 budget's subsidies to outside agencies will be reviewed.

* City staff will recommend awarding a $1.1 million bid for storm sewer lining to Mayer Speciality Services LLC.

* Commissioners will consider approving a resolution to use the city's idle funds to pay for repairing metal storm pipes with a debt-service plan from the storm water management budget. This approach would save the city approximately $16,000 compared to bonding the project.