Guns not allowed
Beginning July 1, open carry of firearms will be the law of the land in Kansas. Local governmental units were stripped of their authority to ban guns; all they can do is spend millions to secure individual buildings. Otherwise, weapons will be permitted on the premises.
Businesses and organizations, however, retain the right to prohibit guns inside their facilities. No security measures are necessary other than a prominent sign placed near the entrance.
But what kind of sign will it be? The current handgun with a red line over it simply doesn't cover all the possible stances that business might take. They could, for instance, be against both concealed carry and open carry. They might favor concealed carry, but not open carry -- or vice versa. They also could be fine with both types of weapon-toting. Lastly, they might not even care -- but that technically would put them in the same category as favoring both carries.
Somebody who does have to care about such nuance is Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt. This week he assembled lawyers, representatives of municipalities and counties, higher education institutions, libaries, hospitals and businesses, as well as pro-gun lobbyists, to discuss what the new signs will look like.
As the chief law enforcement officer for the state, Schmidt is entrusted with the sign's or signs' final design. The AG has said he wants simplicity, an approach that was supported by the working group. Schmidt said it would be a few weeks before designs are approved.
That won't give much time for businesses to obtain the appropriate signage prior to the law's implementation. More than likely, such a concern never crossed the minds of legislators eager to please the National Rifle Association and the Kansas State Rifle Association. The law, which never even received a committee hearing in the House of Representatives despite being opposed by almost every law enforcement agency and local governmental body in the state, is full of details that still are being sorted out.
Cities and counties will be able to bar employees from carrying weapons in work vehicles, yet will be banned from asking whether the same employee has a concealed carry permit. Of course, if that employee commits a wrongful act with a firearm, cities and counties cannot be held liable.
Any firearms seized in crime investigations, other than those used in homicides, must be auctioned off by law enforcement agencies. The chiefs of those agencies also will be required to approve transfers of machine guns to private buyers within 15 days of getting the request, absent justification other than the chief not believing private citizens should have such weapons.
Overall, the legislation was intended to simplify the rules for gun-owners as they travel through the state. It will be interesting to see how simplified the rules will be as the gun-owner travels down their own Main Street. Somewhat ironically, AG Schmidt will prove the power of the pen is mightier than the sword.
Editorial by Patrick Lowry