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SPOTLIGHT
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Gun rights

Published on -3/15/2013, 1:14 PM

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Much like the rest of the nation, Kansas is attempting to shore up the rights of gun-owners while its citizens stockpile weapons just in case the federal government bans them.

We had hoped the mass killing of children in Newtown, Conn., would have led to careful consideration of existing laws and thoughtful debate about the number guns in circulation. Neither has happened. If anything, paranoia about the other's intentions have pushed both sides further into their corners.

Here in the Sunflower State, applications for concealed carry permits are setting records. And if the Legislature has its way, there will be even more locations for citizens to legally tote them if so desired.

On Thursday, the Kansas House approved three firearms measures and sent them to the Senate. The first would allow school districts and state colleges the ability to designate employees to be armed. The second would increase the number of public buildings in which concealed weapons could be carried.

We still do not buy the argument that this will somehow lessen the number of gun-related deaths in the state. We can't disprove the notion that an individual intent on shooting others will not do so because others in the chosen location might be packing heat themselves. But statistics do reveal a causal relationship between the number of accidental shootings and access to firearms. Should these two House measures become law, we'll hope for the best on campus and in government facilities.

The third piece of legislation, which attempts to prohibit the federal government from regulating weapons manufactured, sold and kept in the state, borders on the ridiculous. The Constitution is quite clear regarding the supremacy of federal law.

Even supporters of the bill expect it to be challenged in the courts. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who helped craft the language of House Bill 2199, said: "... It is a fight worth having."

Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe and a backer of the measure, admitted he's concerned about how Kansans will interpret such a law being struck down.

"I would hope we would be very cautious in what we say we can deliver," Kinzer said.

So why would lawmakers attempt to pass the bill? Gun-rights advocates are concerned the federal government might impose restrictions on what types of firearms and accessories the public may own. At a "Guns Across America" rally earlier this year in Topeka, numerous speakers compared President Barack Obama's gun-control measures to those of Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin.

"They took away all their gun rights and then all their other rights," said Andy Stierwalt of Salina. "The right to bear arms is a fundamental right of a free man and a free nation."

That theme was carried forth in testimony at the Capitol.

"Anyone that knows history should understand that a centralized power that wants to have complete control of the people always comes after the guns," said Robert Wood, a tea partier from Pittsburg. "We're once again at the crossroads of liberty in this nation."

We believe such paranoia is unfounded. Ninety-four House members, however, do not. That is how many voted in favor of the Second Amendment Protection Act.

The Second Amendment to both the state and federal Constitution will not be overturned. No such move is afoot. What is taking place is a political stunt in preparation for the next Statehouse elections.

All 29 lawmakers who voted against this measure understand it is a waste of taxpayer money to defend the position that state law should trump federal in a specifically enumerated task.

We already can envision the mailers deriding these legislators for siding with the "wannabe dictator Obama." Such postcards were rather effective in the fall election.

We would expect such nonsense from diehard partisans in the U.S. Congress. Kansas is supposed be a place where common sense prevails. The Second Amendment Protection Act proves it is not.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

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