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Archive for Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Negotiators back at table over concealed gun records

May 10, 2006

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— Information about those applying for concealed gun permits would be closed to the public under a compromise bill expected to be offered to legislators Wednesday.

On a voice vote, the House rejected an earlier compromise Tuesday night to allow public inspection of the name and home county of anyone who applies for, receives or is denied a permit. The Senate passed it 30-8.

"Frankly, that's too much information," said Rep. L. Candy Ruff, an ardent supporter of allowing concealed guns.

Ruff, D-Leavenworth, said the attorney general's office, which will issue the permits starting Jan. 1, also wants the names of permit holders to be closed records.

"Even with just the name and county, it still has the potential to identify, especially in a small county," Ruff said. "You're going to have to trust the system to screen out those who shouldn't be permit holders."

Sponsoring Sen. Phil Journey originally had wanted all information closed pertaining to people who get permits. But he agreed to the limit access proposal.

"It's going back to the original language on open records," said Journey, R-Haysville.

Lawmakers enacted the concealed guns bill in March by overriding Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' veto. It didn't specify that applications, information collected about applicants from sheriffs or lists of permit-holders are closed records.

That was among several oversights identified last month by members of an attorney general's task force, including Journey, in drafting rules and regulations covering issuing permits.

Journey said such records are closed in about two-thirds of the states with concealed gun laws.

He said full disclosure would put an end to criminals wondering who might be carrying a hidden gun - eliminating "the general deterrence" of not knowing whether someone is armed.

The new concealed carry law permits Kansans to obtain four-year permits from the attorney general's office if they are American citizens, 21 or older and have completed eight hours of training.

Concealed guns still will be banned in some locations, including bars, taverns, schools, courthouses, churches and day-care centers. Also, property owners can declare hidden weapons off-limits by posting signs.

The new law also bars people from obtaining permits if they've been convicted of a felony or been committed for a mental illness within the previous five years.

The compromise bill tightens requirements making it illegal for a person who has been committed for mental illness or substance abuse to own a firearm until a judge rules the person no longer is a threat to himself or others.

Once a judge makes that ruling, the person must wait five years before applying for a permit.

The state doesn't keep a central registry of who's been committed, but the compromise would change that.

It also requires courts to inform the Kansas Bureau of Investigation of all persons committed to mental hospitals after July 1998. The KBI must enter the information into national law enforcement computer systems. The KBI must be notified when the rights are restored by a court.

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