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Archive for Thursday, May 18, 2006

Sebelius hasn’t decided action on bill that would close gun permit records

May 18, 2006

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— Whether the public ever will know who gets a concealed gun permit in Kansas is up to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who hasn't decided whether to sign or veto legislation to close such records.

Lawmakers sent Sebelius a bill last week sealing all information about who applies for, receives or is denied a concealed gun permit. Starting July 1, Kansas will be among 48 states allowing concealed guns after legislators overrode the governor's veto.

"The governor will thoroughly review the bill with her policy and legal teams and will consider all input to make what she believes is the best decision for Kansans," Sebelius spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran said Wednesday.

The governor has until May 25 to decide. Sebelius told reporters last week, "That is one I will clearly take a careful look at."

Supporters say gun permit records are best closed, citing safety issues. Opponents say the public has a right to know and that the legislative process was thwarted.

Corcoran said the governor has received letters and e-mails expressing support for both sides of the argument, although most are from people urging her to sign the bill.

The idea for closing the records came from a task force Atty. Gen. Phill Kline appointed on implementing the law, which doesn't close off information about permit-holders. His office must start issuing permits by Jan. 1.

Kline said legislators on the task force, including Sen. Phil Journey, sought to close the records. He said Tuesday he took no position, though he acknowledged, "It was one of the issues I brought to the task force."

But after an April 5 task force meeting, Kline said, "We believe it is important to keep citizen privacy foremost in this. Law enforcement will know if somebody is carrying, but we believe that beyond that, it should not be known."

Journey, R-Haysville, argues public disclosure puts an end to criminals wondering who might be carrying a hidden gun - eliminating "the general deterrence" of not knowing whether someone is armed.

About two-thirds of the states allowing concealed guns have closed their gun permit information to the public, said Journey, who sponsored the hidden gun bill.

He folded the record-closing language into a broader bill addressing various shortcomings the task force found. Because it was a compromise bill, drafted by House and Senate negotiators, lawmakers had to accept or reject it, with no chance to amend it.

Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, said he doesn't want to lose the entire bill because it includes provisions making the new law easier to administer.

The Kansas Press Association urged Sebelius to veto the bill, arguing the records should be open and that the language was added without any public hearings or debate.

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