The Garden City Telegram
4/10/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Gun power

Kansas legislators approve more unwelcome legislation.

Mass shootings have led to serious conversations and action on gun control in some states, including places where deadly outbursts occurred.

Yet in Kansas, the reaction was to make the state more gun-friendly.

A December shooting incident that left 20 first-graders and six staff members dead in Newtown, Conn. — and other recent, high-profile mass killings — understandably sparked pleas from citizens eager for reasonable restrictions on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as stepped-up background checks for gun purchases and efforts to help the mentally ill.

But those pleas have been drowned out in Kansas by those who fear such pursuits would strip them of their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms — even though there's no intent to do so.

Kansas lawmakers recently passed ill-conceived legislation that would let people carry concealed firearms into more public buildings, and prevent federal agents from confiscating weapons made in the state.

Neither would improve public safety.

Encouraging people to brings guns into courthouses, city halls or other public places where emotions may run high is a disturbing proposition. Lawmakers interested in such misguided legislation should ask themselves why law enforcement agencies charged with keeping us safe resist such changes.

The Legislature also approved a plan to tell the federal government it has no power to regulate guns, ammunition and accessories that are made, sold and kept exclusively in Kansas. Unfortunately, that's just an invitation to costly litigation for the state.

Overlooked as lawmakers pursued their gun-rights legislation were efforts to improve access to mental health services and a stronger system of background checks, two areas where Kansas falls short.

In defending the legislation, supporters of making Kansas more gun-friendly said the bills were in the works before the elementary school massacre.

If true, the most recent shooting spree should have been enough to turn lawmakers' attention to realistic ways to prevent such tragedies.

And even if Kansas lawmakers had no interest in tighter gun control, they could have left existing policies in place.

Instead, they chose overkill by going too far in the wrong direction when it comes to guns.