Gun veto overridden

? The Senate on Wednesday overrode Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ veto of legislation allowing Kansans to carry concealed guns.

The vote set up a final showdown today in the House.

If overridden in the House by a two-thirds majority, the measure will become law despite Sebelius’ veto, and permits for concealed weapons would start to be issued in January 2007.

Sponsors of the measure, Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville, and Rep. Candy Ruff, D-Leavenworth, embraced after the Senate vote.

The Senate voted 30-10 to override, surpassing the two-thirds majority of 27 votes in the 40-member Senate.

“The monkey’s on our back,” Ruff said of the next stop for the bill, a veto override attempt in the House.

The strong override vote in the Senate improves the chances of overriding in the House, where 84 votes are needed in the 125-member chamber, she said.

“It puts a lot of pressure on the House, especially those that are yes votes and thinking about flipping. It’s going to make those flippers think twice,” she said.

Doug Wahl, owner of Lawrence Pawn and Jewelry, 944 E. 23rd St., cleans a gun at his shop. He says that people who are scared enough to think they need to carry a concealed firearm probably already have one.

The measure passed earlier in the House 90-33, but that doesn’t necessarily mean those votes will hold during an attempted veto override.

Some legislators, especially Democrats, may change their votes to sustain Sebelius, a Democrat.

“I’m worried about six. I’m praying for 84,” Ruff said.

That was the question in the Senate. The measure had been approved earlier 30-10, but six of those votes were from Democrats.

But on Wednesday, the earlier vote held fast.

“I decided to stick with my position of 10 years,” said Sen. Chris Steinegar, D-Kansas City. “I don’t like voting against my governor, but 99 percent of the time I’m with her.”

Steinegar said he didn’t think Sebelius’ veto of concealed carry would hurt her re-election campaign. “This is going to be a road bump in her career,” he said.

Journey, who has been working to get the measure passed for years, said the issue wasn’t about politics. “It’s about making Kansans safer, and it’s about making Kansas a better place for our citizens,” he said.

Under the bill, Kansas residents 21 or older with no criminal background or history of mental illness or drug abuse could obtain a four-year permit after completing an eight-hour training course.

Sebelius argued concealed carry would make Kansas more dangerous.

“While every law-abiding Kansan has a right to keep and bear arms, hidden weapons make it harder for law enforcement to do its job, and they make Kansas’ workplaces less safe,” Sebelius said in her veto message.

In Lawrence, reaction to the prospect of Kansans carrying concealed weapons was mixed.

John Geery, manager of Jayhawk Pawn and Jewelry, 1804 W. Sixth St., said his brother was killed in a gun accident so he said he is a little skittish when it comes to guns anyway. “He was just playing around with a gun and bad things happen.”

“I don’t know that it’s really necessary,” he said of the concealed weapon law. “You can have all the training in world but it doesn’t really matter if you are drunk and making bad decisions that could harm somebody’s life.”

Doug Wahl, owner of Lawrence Pawn and Jewelry, 944 E. 23rd St., said, “I think anybody who is scared enough that they think they have to carry a concealed firearm probably already has one.

“One of the benefits of a concealed carry law would be that the bad guys won’t know who has them.”

“The whole point about concealed is that little doubt in your head that someone could have them,” Wahl said. “It’s not so much about carrying a concealed weapon, it’s that you could have a concealed weapon.”

The Lawrence Police department has no official position on the law.

Last month, Chief Ron Olin told participants in the department’s citizen’s academy that he had mixed feelings. He said there are a lot of people who already carry weapons on them, but whom police never encounter because they don’t cause any trouble.

Then there are the violent criminals, for whom the law makes no difference.

“They’re already carrying the guns concealed,” he said.

Ed Pavey, director of the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center in Hutchinson, said officers must undergo 53 hours of firearms training and pass a qualifying test before they’re certified to carry a gun.

In February, the Lawrence City Commission passed an ordinance that would make it illegal to possess a firearm within 200 feet of any place that serves liquor. The new legislation, if it becomes law, will override the city ordinance. At the same time, the legislation would prohibit someone with a concealed carry license from taking a weapon into a place that serves liquor.