New gun laws raising questions

Kansas residents are now allowed to carry concealed weapons without a permit or training, but some Marion County residents have questions about the new law.

Marion County Sheriff Rob Craft said Kansas no longer requires someone who is 21 or older to get a license to carry a gun, provided they are legally allowed to possess one.

In addition to the concealed carry law, Craft said, individuals are no longer restricted from carrying a firearm in the open.

The only exception, he said, is if private and public businesses display the Kansas Attorney General?s approved signage not allowing guns on the premises.

Craft said carrying a gun is a constitutional right, and he chose not to discuss the pros and cons associated with the new law.

?There are exemptions still for carrying a gun (with one example being schools), but those are few and far between anymore,? he said.

Places someone might be denied the right to possess firearms includes:

? public or private employers restricting or prohibiting an employee by stating it in personnel policies;

? correctional facilities, jail facilities or law enforcement agencies;

? courtrooms or ancillary courtrooms by the chief judge of a judicial district where other means of security are employed.

Those unable to carry or possess firearms or other restrictions include:

? a person with an active restraining order issued against them;

? a person addicted to and an unlawful user of a controlled substance;

? a person who is convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence;

? prohibiting firearms within the 1,000 feet from school grounds, unless the person meets a federal exception; and

? mentally ill persons subject to involuntary commitment for care and treatment.

?I have some concerns,? Craft said. ?At what point does the public safety override the constitutional right, and I don?t even know if it does.?

Generally, he added, there are two sides of this camp. One is a constitutional viewpoint and one is a more restricted viewpoint.

?I can align with both,? he said, ?but I don?t want to water down the constitutional or put the public in jeopardy.?

Marion City Administrator Roger Holter discussed the issue at a recent council meeting.

?As a municipality, we are still unclear on the best path to take given the (gun) rule changes,? Holter said last week.

?Our council?s decision was because it wasn?t financially feasible to invest the required money into X-ray screening or metal detection equipment, we would not post exclusion signing.?

By not doing the signage, Holter said it meant both concealed and open carry our now allowed in the city building, and because it?s a public access building.

Following the passage of the new law, though, Holter said the city has a uniformed and armed member of the police force present at all council meetings.

?This provides a level of security and peace of mind to our meeting participants and elected officials,? he said.

As a city administrator, though, Holter said he is continuing to express concern to his representative and senator that the exemption process for municipal buildings should be restored.

If not that, then he believes funding needs to be provided for this unfunded security mandate and operational change requirement.

?Until such time that the legislation is modified, we are obliged to adopt as our mode of operations those mindsets that lead to the passage of Senate Bill 45.

?(That mindset) is the Cold War mentality of: ?If everyone is armed, everyone will be afraid to act first,?? he said.

Holter said he did appreciate the state?s wisdom to grant exceptions to all Kansas schools.

?These steps will serve to reinforce the mindset to our students that weapons are not allowed in the building, and that weapons are not the solution for disagreements or divisions,? he said.

Even though the new law doesn?t require a license, Craft said, the state will continue to issue a concealed handgun license to qualified residents.

According to the Kansas Attorney General?s office, the number of concealed carry licenses issued statewide was 98,035 as of June 30.

Prior to the new law taking effect, the AG?s office reported that Marion County had 357 licenses issued.