Bill would block stricter local controls on guns

? Local governments couldn’t impose their own restrictions on people’s ability to legally carry concealed guns under a bill that gained first-round approval Tuesday by the House.

The voice vote put the bill in position for a final vote today. If it passes then, it will go to the Senate.

Last year, lawmakers enacted the concealed carry law over the veto of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. This year’s bill makes sure the state has the final word on how the law is applied.

“Absolutely, it takes away local control. The state occupies the field of concealed carry, period,” said Rep. Candy Ruff, who handled the bill.

Nobody spoke against the bill, although House members generally are boosters of local control.

“Of course, I’m a backer of local control, but the cities took concealed carry beyond what our legislative intent was. This was our way of making sure that didn’t occur again,” said Ruff, D-Leavenworth.

Last year’s law banned concealed guns in some locations, including bars, taverns, schools, courthouses, churches and day-care centers. Also, property owners can ban concealed guns by posting a sign.

Lawmakers complained that some Johnson County cities took it step further, banning concealed guns from public parks, open spaces and city buildings.

Speaker Melvin Neufeld said the bill makes clear who’s in charge.

“You can’t have a state law with different rules in different parts of the state,” said Neufeld, R-Ingalls. “What the cities were doing was trying to make honest people into crooks.”

Supporters of the bill say the patchwork process could mean someone following state statute could unknowingly break the law by walking into a city park where a local ordinance bans concealed guns.

l More legislative news may be found on page 4B.