Gun force — State shouldn't take aim at local control of guns

4/2/2014

As expected, state senators in Kansas seized an opportunity to try and outlaw local control over carrying of guns in public.

As expected, state senators in Kansas seized an opportunity to try and outlaw local control over carrying of guns in public.

The Kansas Senate easily approved a measure Wednesday that would prohibit cities and counties from passing their own weapons regulations, and neutralize local policies already on the books.

Proponents of the bill claim varying local regulations on transporting and carrying firearms for those traveling across the state are too confusing.

Gun-rights activists who argued as much also convinced Kansas lawmakers to rewrite the state's concealed-carry law last year to allow permit holders to carry their weapons into more public places.

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

But senators' fanaticism surrounding the quest for expanded gun rights was in full force this week in the Statehouse, as senators even shot down a sensible proposal that would have excluded libraries, community centers and community mental-health centers from the latest proposal related to concealed carry.

The Senate bill that passed Wednesday at least would continue to allow local officials to prevent guns inside public buildings. But that doesn't go far enough in acknowledging that cities and counties still know best whether gun restrictions are appropriate for their communities.

The state should exercise care when telling cities and counties how to handle matters related to public safety. No two communities are the same, after all.

Local elected officials have the best feel for what's appropriate in their own back yards, and should be allowed to craft policies accordingly — especially when it comes to something as serious as guns.

For that reason, the House has cause to derail the proposed change.

Instead, however, look for ultraconservative Republicans in charge in Topeka to push through the plan to rein in the decision-making of local officials, and in essence smother communities with government control.

Interestingly, the quest is coming from the same folks who say they detest mandates from the federal government. Go figure.

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