Several area legislators say they were surprised to learn that a bill they voted for in 2007 loosened the restrictions on concealed-carry holders bringing loaded weapons into bars.
"I don't have a specific recollection of that being discussed at all," said Rep. Paul Davis, a Lawrence Democrat. "Unfortunately, with the gun bills there seems to be specific little things that get stuck in there, and then they don't get mentioned when they are on the floor."
Davis and other legislators said they believed the regulations needed to be reviewed during next year's legislative session.
Last week, the Journal-World reported that a 2007 change in state law removed language that automatically prohibits concealed-carry holders from taking guns into bars and taverns, regardless of whether the establishments have no-gun signs posted.
The law now reads that concealed-carry holders cannot be cited for breaking the law by entering a tavern - and several other locations - unless the tavern has a state-approved no-gun sign posted.
Several bar owners and the leader of the Kansas Licensed Beverage Association told the Journal-World they were not aware of the law change, which took effect on July 1, 2007.
All but one member of the Lawrence legislative delegation supported the bill in 2007. Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, was the lone member of the local delegation to vote to sustain Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' veto.
But even Sebelius' veto message did not mention the signage issue with bars. Instead, much of the focus on the bill was related to prohibiting cities and counties from creating their own concealed-carry regulations.
Both Rep. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin, and Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, said that was the issue they remembered voting for. Both lawmakers said a review of the regulations would be appropriate, although Sloan said he would keep the issue in perspective.
"People need to be aware that folks carrying concealed without a license are the ones really causing all the problems," Sloan said. "People who have a license are, by and large, law-abiding citizens."
Sen. Roger Pine, R-Lawrence, said he also did not recall that part of the bill. He has been a supporter of concealed-carry legislation, but said he did think there were places where loaded weapons were inappropriate.
Supporters of the law change said it was necessary to clear up confusion about where licensed concealed-carry holders - there are about 14,000 in the state - could enter.
Rep. Arlen Siegfreid, R-Olathe, conducted a hearing on the bill as chairman of the House's Federal and State Affairs Committee. He said the signage issue was only briefly mentioned during the hearing, but he said that's because no one found the change objectionable.
"This way people entering a property never have an excuse. They can't say they didn't know," Siegfreid said. "I would think the bars would want to have the signs up."
Schools, other buildings
But the law also changed signage requirements for schools, libraries, courthouses and several other government buildings. Siegfreid said he would be concerned if schools were not posting the signs.
Mark Tallman, a lobbyist with the Kansas Association of School Boards, said he felt confident nearly all schools in the state had no-gun signs posted. He also said he was confident schools were covered by a federal law that prohibits concealed-carry holders from bringing a weapon to a school attendance center. The federal law, however, doesn't cover ancillary buildings, such as school offices, he said.
Like bar owners, it appears some library leaders also were unaware of the change. Jim Minges, director of the 116-member Northeast Kansas Library System, was not aware that libraries now must post the sign if they want to prohibit concealed carry.
"I'd say that issue was pretty quiet," said Minges, who serves on a legislative affairs committee design to follow legislative action impacting libraries.
Minges said he believed some libraries wouldn't be pleased with the change.
"There has been a lot of discussion about whether putting the sign up calls attention to the issue, and perhaps invites unwanted attention," Minges said. "I know many libraries have chosen not to put up the sign, but that may change."
Siegfreid said he was surprised some groups had not heard of the law change, but stopped short of saying the state had a responsibility to notify them.
"That is one reason we have committee hearings," Siegfreid said. "It allows people to get involved."