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Archive for Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Segdwick County official wants to allow concealed guns in public buildings

August 3, 2011

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— A Sedgwick County commissioner believes prohibitions against carrying concealed weapons in public buildings infringes on the rights of people with permits to carry the weapons and he wants the commission to change the rules.

Concealed guns are prohibited in all 78 of the buildings Sedgwick County owns and leases. Commissioner Richard Ranzau, who is licensed to carry a concealed handgun, said the buildings were put off limits when the state passed its concealed-carry law in 2006 without the county establishing any regulations.

"It's fundamental that I have a right to do it," Ranzau said Tuesday during a meeting with county staff. "That's the rule. To exclude it, we have to have a compelling reason. We need a policy that clearly shows the public we that we take their rights seriously and we're not going to restrict those rights without some form of due process."

The Wichita Eagle (http://bit.ly/qYd5Xi ) reports that county employees are prohibited from carrying guns into their workplaces.

The issue is expected to come up again at the commission's meeting in September, County Manager William Buchanan said.

"Currently there's an informal practice of just tagging all buildings," County Counselor Rich Euson said.

On Tuesday, Buchanan presented a list of 40 county properties that he recommended allow concealed carry, including four health department buildings and 13 facilities used by Comcare, a community mental health center. The list also included the Kansas Pavilions, the extension center, tag offices and fire stations. The county leases nine of the properties on the list and Buchanan said the owner would determine the rules.

The list did not include the county courthouse, although Ranzau wants weapons allowed at the old county courthouse, which includes two courtrooms and the elections office.

Melissa Wangemann, general counsel director of legislative services for the Kansas Association of Counties, said she wasn't aware of any counties that allowed concealed guns in their buildings. But she acknowledged that the law enacted five years ago has left some confusion.

State law says a county can allow concealed weapons into any of its buildings by simply not posting a sign prohibiting them, if the county adopts a resolution that states that.

"The reverse of that is they can prevent it in any county buildings by posting it, which is what we have now," Euson added.

Ranzau said the posted signs give citizens a false sense of security, but Buchanan countered that the signs give the public some confidence that they won't encounter a gun in a county facility.

"The issue is we're trying to make citizens as healthy as possible," Buchanan said. "Why would we want to introduce something that interferes with that process?"

There have been 7,106 concealed-carry licenses issued to Sedgwick County residents as of Aug. 1, according to the state attorney general's office. More than 35,000 have been issued statewide.

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