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Archive for Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Concealed carry squeaks by Senate panel

March 24, 2004

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— A measure allowing Kansans to carry concealed hangduns went to the full Senate after being endorsed Tuesday by the Federal and State Affairs Committee on a 5-4 vote.

Several attempts to broaden the list of places where concealed guns would remain forbidden failed on similar votes.

The most significant change from a version of the bill passed by the House is that the attorney general's office would issue permits, rather than the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

KBI officials have taken no position on the concept of concealed weapons but have said the agency did not want to become a licensing authority. They estimated the agency would need between six and nine new employees to handle the work, while the attorney general's office says it needs only two new employees for the job.

The Senate committee rejected attempts to ban concealed weapons in hospitals, churches, banks and government property such as community centers and parks. The bill already listed city halls, courthouses, the Statehouse, the Kansas State Fair, bars and taverns among the places where carrying concealed guns would be banned.

"If we're going to have concealed carry, we've got to be able to carry it somewhere besides home and the car," said Sen. Stan Clark, R-Oakley.

Much of the debate focused on whether concealed weapons should be banned anywhere children gather for extracurricular activities. The bill already forbid weapons on school property, but some senators wanted to expand that to school activities that aren't conducted on school property, such as field trips.

Clark said he used to take dozens of children on field trips for such activities as clearing out a river bank or hunting sharks' teeth. Sometimes, he said, he took a gun along in case the group came across snakes or dangerous animals.

"If I run into a problem, I generally don't make a big issue out of it," he said. "I just take the gun out and take care of the problem."

Sen. Kay O'Connor, R-Olathe, said she thought it onerous to add to the list of places where people couldn't carry concealed weapons because people with permits would go through a screening process to get them.

"I think these prohibitions are overkill," she said.

Also rejected was an amendment offered by Sen. Jim Barnett, R-Emporia, that would have allowed people to have concealed stun guns or tasers but not handguns.

Barnett said the concealed-carry bill likely will be vetoed by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, but he thought a bill allowing stun guns had a chance to become law.

Sebelius has said she favors concealed carry only for retired law enforcement officials.

The bill, as amended by the Senate committee, requires the attorney general's office to issue a concealed-carry permit to any Kansan who pays a $150 application fee and is a U.S. citizen at least 21 years old, has no mental illness or drug or alcohol addiction and completes eight hours of training.

The bill also forbids local governments from opting out of the law or creating tighter restrictions on concealed-carry than are contained in the measure.

Only Kansas, Illinois, Nebraska and Wisconsin do not have some type of concealed-carry law.

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Concealed carry is HB 2798.

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