Sebelius signs machine gun bill

? Kansans will be able to own machine guns, other fully automatic weapons, sawed-off shotguns and silencers starting July 1.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius signed a bill Monday to legalize the possession of such weapons. The state banned owning machine guns in 1933, but some legislators said a change was necessary because legal questions threaten to keep dealers from delivering weapons to law enforcement agencies.

Supporters believe the bill will benefit mostly collectors because machine guns typically cost at least $20,000. Also, anyone wanting to own such weapons must undergo two federal background checks.

“I can’t even afford them,” said Sen. Phil Journey, a Haysville Republican who is a strong gun-rights advocate and championed the bill. “There may be some very happy collectors who have significant disposable income.”

The bill had bipartisan support among legislators and passed both chambers with more than the two-thirds majorities necessary to override a veto.

“I suspect that the governor knows that it’s not good public policy for the state of Kansas, but she has to pick and choose the battles she takes on,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman John Vratil, a Leawood Republican who opposed the measure.

In announcing her action, Sebelius didn’t elaborate on her reasons for signing the bill. Her past actions on gun issues had raised questions about whether she would.

In 2006, she vetoed a bill allowing qualified Kansans to carry concealed handguns, only to see the Legislature override her. Last year, she rejected a bill preventing local governments from imposing additional restrictions on concealed guns, and legislators once again nullified her veto.

But spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran said Sebelius didn’t receive numerous calls from law enforcement officers asking her to veto this year’s measure, as she did with the concealed carry bill two years ago.

“Governor Sebelius carefully reviewed this bill, which is similar to the laws of 30 other states that require compliance with extensive federal guidelines,” Corcoran said.

Those federal guidelines not only will require two background checks, but also the approval of a prospective gun owner’s local sheriff or police chief.