Archive for Sunday, June 15, 2008

It’s on the books

If the Kansas Legislature passes a law and no one knows about it, how does it get enforced?

June 15, 2008


Ignorance of the law - as we all know - is not a defense. So, exactly what is the state's responsibility for notifying residents of laws that affect the everyday conduct of their lives and businesses?

That's a question many people are asking almost a year after some changes to the Kansas statute governing the carrying of concealed weapons. The concealed carry law got considerable attention when it originally was passed in 2006, but some provisions included in additional legislation passed in 2007 to "clean up" the law went pretty much unnoticed even though they had a significant impact on enforcing the law.

The part of the bill that most people were aware of had to do with prohibiting cities from exempting themselves from the concealed carry law. However, the bill also changed how the concealed carry law would be enforced at bars and taverns. In the original law, bars and taverns were among the places that had a blanket prohibition on concealed weapons. In 2007, legislators decided that was too confusing and that bars and taverns should be like all other businesses, which are required to post signs saying that concealed weapons are prohibited there.

The only problem is that no one made a point of telling the bar owners - or apparently even the police - about the change. Bar owners informed about the new law by the Journal-World said they had no idea about the change; a Lawrence man who is executive director of the Kansas Licensed Beverage Association said the same. A city attorney who works with the Lawrence Police Department said he would need to inform officers of the change.

The changes were published in the statute book and on the state attorney general's Web site, one legislator said. That should be good enough. He's right, that it meets the letter of the law, but it seems to violate the spirit, especially when it creates a loophole that could help someone avoid prosecution for carrying a concealed weapon in a bar. As the law now stands, someone couldn't be prosecuted for that offense unless the bar was displaying a sign prohibiting weapons. Local bar owners didn't know until last week that the signs were necessary, so enforcement would have been impossible.

The news media, as well as various industry groups, put considerable effort into trying to monitor the activities of our lawmakers, but it's hard to know about everything, especially if legislators don't make any effort to make it known.

Just when is seems that our state legislators aren't doing very much, something like this crops up. Maybe they're doing a lot more than most Kansans know.


justthefacts 9 years, 9 months ago

This is a joke, right? Or the LJW had extra column space to fill, so someone quickly penned "They passed a law and did not advertise it, maybe they are up to something?!" I am no huge fan of lawmakers in general (who never pass laws that apply to themselves equally), and could easily embrace fewer sessions and fewer laws being passed. However, since when did the nanny state mentality get this far?

MandM 9 years, 9 months ago

It should also be noted. The CC License classes cover the changes in the laws. The instructors have the responsibility of staying up to date on the laws and they are required to give copies of the laws to their students. Just as someone who has a drivers license is expected to keep up to date on changes in motor vehicle laws, CC license holders must do the same. Business owners unfortunately are hit with lots of changes every year. But they need to stay on top of things too. That's where their "associations and organizations" come in to play. Where were they when the changes were made? They didn't do their members justice if they didn't notify them of the changes in the laws. On the legislature's website there is a nifty little tool of "bill tracking" and "Lobbyist in a box" that help keep track of any changes that come up. When I was a news director I used similar bill tracking tools. They are very useful.

JayHawker45 9 years, 9 months ago

The Lawrence Journal World again panders to the emotions of a few and attempts to instill fear into those either too ignorant to do the research or to self absorbed to become involved in the workings of their government.I am still perplexed as to why this is newsworthy. Do we actually have legislators admitting that they failed to perform their office in a diligent manner? If so, let's start a recall petition now. Or is it more likely newspapers such as the Lawrence Journal World and the Wichita Eagle have made a mountain out of a mole hill?If one looks at the requirements to carry concealed in the state of Kansas, with an open mind, one sees that the average citizen carrying concealed has been vetted both by the state of Kansas and the FBI. Who worries you more, the law abiding citizen, or the hobgoblin that carries illegally anyway-regardless of what sign is posted? The state of Kansas has had concealed carry for 2 years now and based on passage of HB2528, law abiding and upstanding members of your community have been carrying concealed in all manner of locales, without a single incident. Please tell me what that means to you. The process by which HB2528 came to be passed was a 2 month long process, a process that was supported by both sides of the aisle, as evidenced by a 2/3's majority voting to over ride the Governor's veto. Saying there exists a loop hole or that it comes as a surprise that law abiding citizens can now carry in bars that are not posted with the Attorney General's approved sign is disingenuous at best and at worst reeks of muck raking news. The emotional arguments posed by the League of Kansas municipalities, the postings on the Attorney General's website and in fact, coverage by the media during the process of passage of HB2528, lead me to believe that, in truth, more was known about this bill than some would care to admit.The facts of the matter are irrefutable, since passage of HB2528, not one single incident has occurred involving a concealed carry license holder in the state of Kansas that should arouse any debate over this topic at all. Your, the Lawrence World Journal's, emotional reporting of this "story" only serves to inflame, why not do the research yourself and report on the number of incidents involving concealed carry holders? Why not do a report on the number of criminals carrying illegally? Why don't you look rationally and logically at what the "gun buster" signs really signify?

Devon Kissinger 9 years, 9 months ago

And let's not forget, both of the laws concerning concealed carry were vetoed by the Governor and had to be overridden by a majority vote. This was not just one party that overrode the Governor's veto.

VTracey 9 years, 9 months ago

Where is the "news"? If the business owners associations did not follow the changes to the laws that impacted on their membership - shame on them!No one seems to be up in arms (pun intended) because criminals and gang bangers can carry concealed into restaurants and bars, drink and drive and shoot other patrons outside the bars in Lawrence. Now law abiding citizens are being singled out for obeying the law and not causing issues or shooting people.No concealed carry licensee has shot anyone in a Kansas bar/restaurant since it became legal to have concealed carry, let alone since the law was clarified to help prevent unnecessary breaking of the law. Has LJWorld not better news to report or is this another attempt by supporters of the Kansas League of Municipalities to subvert the law because they don't like citizens to have rights?As for the state being required to notify people of changes, what your own news stories about the governor vetoing the changes and having the veto over ridden isn't good enough notification of the changes. Like you said "Ignorance of the law - as we all know - is not a defense." Neither is it news! Oh, and by the way, I am retired Law Enforcement and I don't see the issue.

MandM 9 years, 9 months ago

The conceal carry laws are also posted on the attorney generals website for all to see. He also has a section there for "updates". Those who have CC licenses have the responsibility of keeping up to date on those laws. So do attorneys and law enforcement. This subject has been prominently addressed on the AG's website. They legislature had hearings, debate and votes on all of this in open session. There was nothing done behind closed doors. The media missed the boat and now have jumped to point out something they missed calling it "New" "Changed" or "secretly done".

MandM 9 years, 9 months ago

Mr. Editor, How the heck did this go by "pretty much unnoticed" as you put it? It was discussed and voted on several times. And for a legislator to say they don't recall it should be concerning to everyone.Legislators had time to review the changes, flag the bill if it concerned them and keep track of it. The amendments offered by HB 2528 went through a two month process and included an override of the Governor's veto. There's no excuse for legislators to NOT know what the bill said. Full History on bill 2528H 2528 Bill by Federal and State Affairs Firearms; state preemption of regulation; amendments to concealed weapon licensure law. Effective date: 05/03/2007. 02/14/2007 H Introduced -HJ 220 02/15/2007 H Referred to Federal and State Affairs -HJ 222 03/13/2007 H CR: Be passed as am. by Federal and State Affairs -HJ 407 03/20/2007 H COW: CR be adptd; be further am.; be passed as am. -HJ 460; Engrossed -HJ 485 03/21/2007 H FA: Passed as am.; Yeas 107 Nays 17 -HJ 466 03/21/2007 S Received and introduced -SJ 416 03/22/2007 S Referred to Federal and State Affairs -SJ 437; CR: Be passed as am. by Federal and State Affairs -SJ 441 03/27/2007 S COW:; CR be adptd -SJ 505 03/26/2007 S Be further am. -SJ 510; Be passed as am. -SJ 510 03/27/2007 S FA: Passed as am.; Yeas 29 Nays 11 -SJ 524 04/02/2007 H Concurred; Yeas 106 Nays 16 -HJ 686; Reengrossed -HJ 713 04/06/2007 H Enrolled and presented to gov. -HJ 1127 04/13/2007 Vetoed by gov.; returned to house -HJ 1063 04/26/2007 H Motion to override veto prevailed; bill passed; Yeas 98 Nays 26 -HJ 1130 04/27/2007 S Motion to override veto prevailed; bill passed; Yeas 30 Nays 10

JBurgherr 9 years, 9 months ago

Let me see if I understand this:A bill gets vetoed by the Governor. The House and Senate over-ride the veto (which is usually a news worthy event in and of itself.) The LJW does not bother to see what all the hub-bub is about. It never bothers to read the bill, and never reports to its readers about this bill's contents (which it now deems to be so abominable.) They never report as to why the Governor chose to veto. They never checked with any of the legislature as to why they overrode the veto. The LJW then has the audacity to wag it's finger at the legislature a year later for not notifying the public of laws beyond what is required to law. "It's not in the spirit:" OH GOOD GRIEF!!! Do you want legislature to write your newspaper for you too?If this had been an Investigative Journalism 101 class, the LJW would have received an "F".This is an obvious political con job being perpetrated by the LJW because HB2528, which passed publicly a year ago, does not suit their political agenda.

justthefacts 9 years, 9 months ago

Oh I get it now. The media thinks something is done secretly if they are not personally notified about it, in advance and frequently. If they had it their way, every human being on earth (especially public figures) would have to allow reporters into their homes and offices at all times. But good luck getting a realistic look into their lives, or at their business. LJW, sounds like you need to hire a full time professional reporter to watch the state house for you. No wait......

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