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Archive for Wednesday, January 7, 2004

Legislator to take new shot on guns

Leavenworth Democrat predicts this is the year for concealed-carry law

January 7, 2004

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— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' opposition to a bill allowing Kansans to carry concealed handguns may not matter, according to a northeast Kansas legislator who is pushing for the law.

Rep. Candy Ruff, a Democrat from Leavenworth, said she hoped the legislation would win by such large margins in the Legislature that it would survive a veto by Sebelius. Overturning a veto would require two-thirds votes in the House and Senate.

"My whole take on this is to work to make it veto-proof in order not to involve the governor," Ruff said.

Kansas is one of only a handful of states that doesn't allow its residents to carry concealed guns. Proposals to allow concealed carry were vetoed in 1997 by then-Gov. Bill Graves, and died in the Senate in 1999.

But this is the year for passage, Ruff said.

"It's ridiculous that we don't have this," she said. "Its time has come regardless of who the governor is. A strong majority of Kansas citizens are interested."

Sebelius, a Democrat, has said she would support a bill limited to allowing retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed guns because "they have the special training and the street smarts to deal with it."

But she said she opposed a broader bill because law enforcement officials have told her that it would not reduce crime, and major employers, such as Hallmark Cards, "feel it is a dangerous proposition."

Ruff dismissed Sebelius' comments, saying the record was clear from other states that concealed-carry laws have not jeopardized safety in the workplace.




Ruff, who is married to a Leavenworth police officer, said most law enforcement officials supported allowing law-abiding citizens to have concealed weapons.

She said safeguards would be built into the bill that would require Kansans to receive training and undergo background checks before they could be eligible for a gunholders' permit.

Ruff said she had no desire to carry a weapon and was not a member of the NRA. She said her support was based on what she said was the constitutional right to carry a gun and protect oneself.

The bill hasn't been drafted yet, Ruff said, but it would be similar to one proposed in 1999. Under that measure, people eligible to receive a concealed-carry permit would have to be 21 or older, complete a safety and training course and have no history of mental illness or substance abuse in the previous five years. In addition, applicants could not have any felony convictions or be under a court restraining order.

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