The elimination of certain requirements to obtain or renew a license to carry a concealed firearm in Kansas simply defies common sense.
When the state’s concealed carry law was passed in 2006, many Kansans had concerns about its impact. Those concerns have only been heightened by various changes that have taken place in the law since it went into effect. The original law, for instance, banned concealed firearms from bars, schools, churches and libraries. A change in the law allows concealed firearms in those places unless a “no guns” sign is posted. Another change removed the requirement that concealed carry license holders take a Breathalyzer test if a law enforcement officer had reason to suspect the person was intoxicated.
It also has come to light that most of the provisions that ensure a person is physically able to handle a firearm have been eliminated. The state no longer can deny a license to applicants based on their physical condition and, once a license is issued, it can be renewed without having a vision or shooting accuracy test. There is no provision to address declines in physical abilities that accompany the natural aging process.
That’s fine, according to one legislator who spoke to the Journal-World. “I think it should be up to the individual,” said Rep. Richard Carlson of St. Marys. “If they are a law-abiding citizen, then I think it should be self-determination of whether or not they are capable of it.”
A comparison with the state’s drivers license laws seems apt. We would like to think that every aging driver in the state would have the sense to know when to quit driving. However, Kansas doesn’t leave that to chance. Drivers under 65 must pass an eye exam every six years to renew their licenses. Those over 65 must pass an exam every four years.
Kansas has that law because people who can’t see or have obvious physical disabilities are a danger not only to themselves but to everyone else with whom they share the road. Is it not obvious that the same principle applies to someone who legally carries a concealed firearm into a public place? Even if that weapon is used legitimately as protection from someone posing an imminent threat, the chances that innocent bystanders will be hurt expands greatly if the person holding the gun has a visual or physical impairment.
Although all of these changes went into effect last year, there was little or no effort to undo any of the provisions in the 2011 legislative session. Maybe legislators didn’t want to appear anti-concealed carry, but, as we noted at the outset, some of these provisions are anti-common sense. They certainly deserve a second look by state lawmakers.