Topeka Secretary of State Kris Kobach on Tuesday urged passage of a bill that he said would protect Kansas gun owners from federal restrictions, and he welcomed a possible legal battle over the measure all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"It is a fight worth having," Kobach told the House Federal and State Affairs Committee during a hearing before a standing-room-only crowd of gun owners.
House Bill 2199, known as the Second Amendment Protection Act, states that any personal firearm, accessory or ammunition that is owned or manufactured in Kansas and that remains in the state is not subject to federal law. Federal authorities trying to enforce any kind of rule on such a firearm would face possible prison time.
And it would prohibit doctors — but not psychiatrists — from inquiring whether a patient owns a gun.
Supporters of the bill said it was necessary to protect Kansas gun owners from possible legislation in Congress and executive orders by President Barack Obama.
"We will not succumb to their ridiculous and unconstitutional threats to gun ownership," said Patricia Stoneking, president of the Kansas State Rifle Association.
Speakers said proposed gun rules sparked by recent gun violence violate the Second Amendment and states' rights under the 10th Amendment.
But Attorney General Derek Schmidt's office told the committee to be mindful of legal limits on the ability of states to restrict federal actions.
In written testimony, Assistant Attorney General Charles Klebe, who is responsible for licensing concealed carry guns, said, "To state the obvious, the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution cannot be waived by state law, and any conflict between a valid federal law and a state law will be resolved by the courts in favor of the federal enactment."
The provision creating a felony offense for federal authorities to enforce federal guns laws could subject Kansas officers to federal charges of obstruction of justice, Klebe said.
And prohibiting doctors from asking questions about a patient's firearms ownership raised issues about limiting the First Amendment right to free speech, he said.
Several supporters of the bill said Obama, either through executive order or the Affordable Care Act, was going to require doctors ask their patients whether they own a gun.
But when asked where in the Affordable Care Act that provision was, the speakers said they didn't know.
The Obama administration has said the ACA allows physicians to ask their patients about gun safety but did not create any mandate requiring doctors to do so.
Both the Kansas Medical Society and Kansas Action for Children said they would oppose prohibiting physicians from asking patients if they have firearms in their homes.
From 2005 to 2010, 40 percent of homicides of children in Kansas involved a gun, the KAC said. "Screening for child and adolescent access to firearms is an essential component of injury prevention," the KAC said. The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages physicians to ask patients if they own firearms.
The KAC said asking about the presence of guns is just part of a safety checklist that includes questions about other potential hazards, such as staircase gates, swimming pools and the location of poison in the home.