KC Star wrote:
After years of failed efforts, vetoes and political wrangling, Kansas will join most of the nation in allowing concealed weapons permits, starting this year.
The Kansas House voted Thursday to override Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ veto of a concealed weapons bill, following a similar vote in the Senate on Wednesday. The action makes law a plan to allow citizens who pass a background check and training course to carry concealed weapons. The first applications can be filed July 1.
The House vote was 91-33, seven more votes than necessary to reject Sebelius’ veto.
“The people of Kansas have waited a long time for this,” said Sen. Phil Journey, a Haysville Republican who has worked for the bill for more than a decade, first as a citizen and then as a lawmaker.
Estimates are that 20,000 to 48,000 Kansans will apply for permits in the first four years. It will be up to Attorney General Phill Kline to work out rules for implementing the law, including whether Kansas will honor permits issued by other states.
Gun rights groups were ecstatic about crossing another state off the list of those that do not allow concealed weapons. Now, only three states have no right-to-carry law.
So what took Kansas so long to pass a concealed weapons law?
“The gun control lobby has done a pretty good job of misleading people,” said Chris Cox, the National Rifle Association’s chief lobbyist. “They’ve been predicting doomsday since these laws started. For some, it took 46 states to approve it to see that it hasn’t materialized.”
Still, local law enforcement agencies worry about the law’s potential effect. Prairie Village Police Chief Charles Grover said officers will now keep in the back of their minds the idea that there are more guns on the street.
“For me, I don’t think guns have ever solved anything,” Grover said Thursday. “They create more issues than are ever solved. … I worry about safety of my officers and safety of the general public.”
But supporters said citizens have nothing to fear from law-abiding Kansans carrying guns.
“I think if anything, it’ll be safer,” said Mike Soden, manager of the Olathe Gun Shop. “People we need to worry about having concealed weapons already have them.”
Earlier efforts to pass the law in Kansas resulted in vetoes from Sebelius, a Democrat, in 2004, and her Republican predecessor, Gov. Bill Graves. Lawmakers couldn’t muster the two-thirds majority required to override the vetoes — until this year.
Previous efforts failed, at least in part, because of Johnson County’s moderate Republican lawmakers, who consistently voted against the measure. Rep. Tim Owens, an Overland Park Republican, said he realized this week that the concealed weapons proposal would inevitably succeed in Kansas. In the end, he voted with the majority to reject the veto, but not because he changed his mind.
“I don’t like it,” he said. “But sometimes you just have to bite the bullet so you can move on.”
Some Johnson County lawmakers say they’ve polled constituents and found that most oppose concealed weapons.
“We’re in an urban area,” said Rep. David Huff, a Lenexa Republican. “We see incidents of road rage. We see more crime than rural areas. There’s more of a concern.”
Yet most Wyandotte County lawmakers support the law.
“We have a lot of blue-collar people, and we have crime, a lot of it because we’re on the state line and we have the main road that goes through Kansas City, Mo.,” said Rep. Tom Burroughs, a Kansas City, Kan., Democrat. “We now have women getting off a shift at 11 p.m. These people want protection.”
Rep. Candy Ruff, a Leavenworth Democrat who led the push in the House, said the law simply gives an option to law-abiding citizens. She doesn’t own a gun and won’t apply for a permit. But she said so many constituents said they wanted the law that she took notice.
“I heard from two women who were raped and wanted to be able to defend themselves,” she said.
Kansas can now expect to go through what Missouri did two years ago, when the state began issuing permits.
In 2004 Missouri issued 14,333 permits, but that did not include Jackson, Boone or St. Louis counties, or St. Louis city. Those areas were exempt because of a lawsuit over funding for enforcement. By the end of 2005, the entire state was eligible, and the state issued 8,738.
“It was a headache,” said Sgt. Gary Kilgore of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department. “For the first week or so, they (officials in Kansas) will be inundated with applications, with questions.”
Jackson County began issuing permits on Feb. 7, 2005, and had 55 applications the first day.
Shawnee residents Brian Moffitt and Don Cochran said they would be there when Johnson County began issuing permits.
“Gun laws have been so strict, and they’re finally starting to loosen up a bit,” Moffitt said. “Now if you want protection, you’ll be able to keep it in your house or in your car.”
Once news hit Thursday about the vote in the House, the phone began ringing at the Olathe Gun Shop.
“People wanted to know how much a certain gun costs,” said Soden, the manager. “They asked if we carry concealment-type holsters.”
For others, Thursday wasn’t about anticipating a new purchase.
“Part of it really is it’s nice to know you still have freedoms,” said Jeff Neumann, manager of the Bullet Hole gun shop in Overland Park. “You may never exercise it, but you know you have it. … I like to know freedom still has a voice.”
The veto override marks the first time lawmakers have rejected a Sebelius veto. She issued a statement Thursday in which she noted that law enforcement groups opposed the bill and shared her concerns that the law could “make Kansans, including our officers, less safe.”
House Speaker Doug Mays, a Topeka Republican, said the defeat wouldn’t hurt Sebelius. If nothing else, an issue that has polarized politicians for years is gone, he said.
“Anytime a governor’s veto is overridden, their pride suffers for a little while,” he said. “But in some ways, it removes this issue from the table.”
Questions and answers
Now that the law is passed, when will permits be offered?
The law takes effect July 1, but the state will have up to six months to issue permits, meaning the first ones will be issued no later than Jan. 1, 2007.
Who can get a permit?
Applicants must be Kansas residents, over 21, and without a criminal history or a record of multiple DUIs, drug arrests or domestic violence. Applicants must also undergo training, be fingerprinted, and pay a $150 fee.
Are there places where weapons won’t be allowed?
Libraries, courtrooms, government buildings, schools, bars, sporting events, places of worship and buildings that post a sign prohibiting weapons.
How many Kansans will apply for permits?
Estimates are that between 20,000 and 48,000 will apply in the first four years.
Will Missouri permits be recognized in Kansas, and vice versa?
It’s too soon to say. It’s up to officials in both states to decide. Many states recognize permits from other states.
How are the two states’ rules different?
Both states will require training and background checks.
Missouri’s minimum age for a permit is 23; in Kansas, it’s 21. Kansas’ application fee is $150. Missouri’s is $100. The application process will take longer in Kansas (as long as six months at first) than in Missouri (45 days). In Missouri, the permits are good for three years; in Kansas, four.
How they voted
■ Republicans voting yes (to override): Anthony Brown, Eudora; Mike Kiegerl, Lance Kinzer, Rob Olson, Scott Schwab and Arlen Siegfreid, all of Olathe; Patricia Kilpatrick, Eric Carter and Tim Owens, all of Overland Park; Ray Merrick, Stilwell; Judy Morrison and Mary Pilcher Cook, both of Shawnee; and Kenny Wilk, Lansing.
■ Democrats voting yes: Tom Burroughs, Margaret Long, Mike Peterson, Louis Ruiz and Bonnie Sharp, all of Kansas City, Kan.; and Candy Ruff, Leavenworth.
■ Republicans voting no (against override): Pat Colloton, Leawood; David Huff and Stephanie Sharp, both of Lenexa; Terrie Huntington, Mission Hills; Kevin Yoder and Jim Yonally, both of Overland Park; Ray Cox, Bonner Springs; Ed O’Malley, Roeland Park; and Kay Wolf, Prairie Village.
■ Democrats voting no: Broderick Henderson and Valdenia Winn, both of Kansas City, Kan.; Marti Crow, Leavenworth; and Sue Storm, Overland Park.