The Garden City Telegram
5/28/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Gun delay

Understandable concern over expanded concealed-carry law.

It was no surprise to hear a local judge seek more time before moving forward with a new state law that allows people to bring guns into public buildings.

The law that goes into effect July 1 allows carrying concealed handguns into state, county and municipal buildings unless those facilities invest in new security measures, such as metal detectors or security guards, to try to keep all weapons out.

Concealed weapons still could be banned through 2017 in many public buildings, so long as beefed-up security plans are made public.

Wendel Wurst, chief judge of the 25th Judicial District, cited valid concerns when he asked the Finney County Commission for a six-month exemption of the county courthouse to allow time to determine whether security measures other than metal detectors are available.

Wurst noted there would be considerable cost involved in implementing new security as a way to remain free of concealed weapons — which should be the goal.

He wanted time to see if some kind of reasonable alternative might materialize.

In asking for the six-month exemption — which county commissioners approved — Wurst made a case that echoed concerns of many who would rather not have citizens packing heat in public places. In doing so, he expressed sensible thinking that has eluded many others — namely an ultraconservative Republican regime at work in Topeka — who believe more guns would somehow help combat acts of violence.

As Wurst explained, courtrooms often see emotionally-charged situations when people experience significant changes in their lives. Also, someone who has committed a violent act in the past might not think twice about committing a crime in the courthouse.

Such concern extends to many public places where emotions may run high, be it a courthouse, city hall or other setting.

If someone is intent on causing harm, they'll usually get the job done. As much as gun rights activists would insist otherwise, more people with firearms won't guarantee protection, but would increase the risk of accidental shootings. People with limited experience in handling weapons could make a bad situation worse.

Folks on the front line at public buildings should indeed be worried.