The Garden City Telegram
2/5/2014
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Gun surge

Ultraconservatives pushing to undermine local policies.

In a state already considered gun friendly, some lawmakers still aren't satisfied.

Gun rights activists scored plenty of victories last year in Kansas as lawmakers rewrote the state's concealed-carry law to allow permit holders to carry their weapons into more public buildings, and even passed a law declaring that the federal government has no power to regulate guns sold and kept only in Kansas.

And now, a recent proposal in the Kansas Legislature would call for stripping cities and counties of any power to restrict the open carry of firearms or regulating guns in any way.

The bill also would prohibit cities and counties from regulating gun and ammunition sales, keep them from using tax dollars to administer gun buyback programs and prevent local governments from regulating the carrying of knives, even in public buildings.

One focal point would be easing the open carry of firearms statewide. Proponents of such a change say differences in local rules make it too confusing for gun owners going from place to place in Kansas.

When the concealed-carry legislation passed in the last session, cities and counties at least were allowed to impose regulations, and some did restrict the practice due to reasonable concerns over safety and liability.

How ironic that ultraconservative Republicans who do their best to keep the federal government from intervening in what they consider state business now have no problem butting into government decision-making at the local level.

Ultraconservatives pushing for the change also cited expense to local governments as one reason to ban gun buyback programs.

The same lawmakers wouldn't hesitate to shove more of the financial burden for schools and other state services to the local level in the wake of their massive tax-cut plan that benefited the wealthy in Kansas. Yet they do care if a municipality chooses to spend its own tax dollars on a safety-minded program designed to take guns off the streets.

Sadly, it was no surprise to see the latest plan to expand gun rights riddled with more of the hypocrisy and self-serving politics that have become business as usual in Topeka.