Archive for Saturday, February 24, 1996


February 24, 1996


A local lawyer says arguments against a bill allowing Kansans to carry concealed weapons are full of holes.

Lawrence attorney Scott Hattrup took aim at the idea of carrying a concealed weapon while a student at Kansas University.

No, he didn't want to duel an instructor to settle an academic feud. And he didn't get carried away reading a James Bond thriller.

His target was the Constitution, especially the Second Amendment. It's a simple 27-word declaration about a well-regulated militia and the right of free people to keep and bear arms.

"I've done extensive reading," said Hattrup, a 1995 KU law graduate.

It was while immersed in treatises on constitutional law that Hattrup's passion for the subject clicked. He is actively supporting a bill introduced in the Legislature to allow Kansans to carry concealed weapons.

"Give people a chance to defend themselves," he said.

The House Federal and State Affairs Committee is conducting hearings on the bill. The committee will likely approve the measure, Hattrup said.

It has a good chance of passing through the House, but Sen. Sandy Praeger, R-Lawrence, thinks the Senate will stop the bullet.

Concealed weapon advocates have no shot at winning her over. She's unwilling to conclude that Kansans need to hide a weapon under their coat to feel safe. After all, they can legally pack heat -- if it's unconcealed.

In addition, Praeger said a gun in the hand was a gun that could be used irresponsibly.

"Normal, sane people do foolish things all the time," she said. "Giving normal, sane people concealed weapons that are available for use in a fit of anger is foolish."

Hattrup said Praeger's notion of foolish was silly.

"This isn't going to be crazy citizens running around with guns shooting up parking lots after accidents," he said.

Under the bill, people couldn't carry concealed weapons in jails, police stations, courthouses, courtrooms, polling places, government meetings, public or private schools and universities, bars or any restaurant serving alcohol.

They could covertly carry a gun into churches, day-care centers, fast food restaurants, nursing homes, playgrounds, city parks, convenience stores and safe houses for victims of domestic abuse.

The proposed law would supersede all local gun ordinances.

Agents of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation would conduct background checks on applicants for a concealed weapon license. Applicants, who must be at least 21, would undergo training in use of deadly force.

Lt. Kevin Harmon of the Lawrence Police Department said the bill was troublesome for law enforcement.

The KBI's current budget and staffing are insufficient to handle administration of licensing for concealed weapon permits, he said.

"It will be extremely labor intensive," Harmon said. "They are woefully inadequately staffed at the present for fighting crime."

In addition, Harmon said training requirements to obtain a license would likely be inadequate to deal with legal, ethical and moral issues surrounding use of deadly force.

The city's police officers receive about 160 hours of training before they graduate from the academy, he said.

Hattrup intends to apply for a license if the bill becomes law but wouldn't strap on a concealed weapon all the time.

He said many people viewed a gun as a security blanket in times of crisis. Most individuals interested in carrying concealed weapons aren't angling for a legal means to commit murder, he said.

"If you're carrying deadly force on your person, that tends to have a calming effect. That's a very sobering effect."

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