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Archive for Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Opinion: Former district attorney comments on concealed-carry law

July 10, 2013

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The recent law passed by the Kansas Legislature allows holders of concealed carry licenses to carry weapons into governmental buildings including meetings of various commissions open to the public. The July 6 Journal-World article notes that over 400 entities have filed for exemption from the new law. In support of the new law, you quote Sen. Forrest Knox from Altoona. Knox is quoted as saying that “the average Kansan gets it.” I presume by this statement, Knox means that the average Kansan supports the new law.

Well, Mr. Knox, as an “average Kansan,” here is what I “get.”

The basic premise of your new law is that anyone who is licensed to carry a concealed weapon is, simultaneously, endowed with intelligence, forbearance, common sense and even temper and, thereby, would use that concealed weapon in a way that reflected those attributes. That is a false premise. I was a prosecutor for over 20 years, Mr. Knox, and I can assure you that I was privy to numerous violent crimes perpetrated by people who, at least on the surface, could not conceivably be capable of such crimes. All it takes is a pressure cooker of emotional events to trigger an explosion of violence, including the use of whatever weapon is handy, such as a gun. It does not take much imagination to foresee a real tragedy in a crowded commission chamber.  In any event, a concealed-carry license does not insure civilized behavior.

In addition to having the dubious distinction of lacking even a modicum of common sense, Mr. Knox, this new law you have championed is in the form of an unfunded mandate. This means that any governmental entity that wishes to be exempt, and there are, by last count, over 400 of them, must pony up money to cover the cost of a security system. In the city of Lawrence, the estimate is at least $200,000.

In summary, it is difficult to remember a more thoughtless, ill-conceived and potentially dangerous piece of legislation than this one — although, in this last legislative session, it had plenty of competition.

Finally, as an average Kansan, I deeply resent the imposition of this new law on my community, particularly because it is so ill-conceived. I would suggest that if you want to indulge in delusional legislative experiments, please confine them to your home town of Altoona. I am certain there is a corral handy.

I “get it,” Mr. Knox, and, somehow, I don’t think I’m the only one.

Comments

hedshrinker 1 year, 5 months ago

It's NOT a typo when it happens consistently over and over...I know many who think that those of us who challenge people's credibility on their spelling, grammar, punctuation etc are petty nitpickers, but it truly gets in the way when folks can't put a sentence together without repeated errors. If you want content critique, I totally support attorney Wells' criticisms of this new law, which I think will lead eventually to tragic outcomes....we're moving it seems inexorably to an arms race in which we think the solution to problems is more artillery, more high fences , more prisons to keep the barbarian hordes at bay....unfortunately we ourselves are becoming more and more uncivilized.....and yes, being able to communicate intelligibly is part of civilization.

verity 1 year, 5 months ago

You have proof of that, since you're so sure?

jafs 1 year, 5 months ago

1/3 of the eligible voters in KS voted for him, so it doesn't say anything about the "vast majority of Kansans".

tomatogrower 1 year, 5 months ago

So then why shouldn't the people of "la la Lawrence land" have the right to decide what to do in our city hall?

oldvet 1 year, 5 months ago

Actually they do have the right to decide... they can keep legal concealed weapons out of county and city buildings by installing metal detectors or they can permit legal concealed weapons to be carried inside those buildings. Today they only keep legal concealed weapons out, the criminals have the ability to bring their weapons inside.

bad_dog 1 year, 5 months ago

Or...

"Commissioners did not include money in the budget for metal detectors or security staff for City Hall or other city buildings. A new state law will allow holders of concealed-carry permits to take their guns into public buildings unless the owners of those buildings show a security plan to keep out all guns. That has been thought to mean that governments would have to equip buildings with metal detectors and security staff if they wanted to keep out concealed guns. But commissioners held off on budgeting money for the security measures because the city attorney said she now believes the city has a good chance to qualify for a four-year exemption from the law. The exemption process will require the city to create a formal security plan for each building it wants to exempt, but the security plan does not require the costly metal detectors and security staff, she said."

rtwngr 1 year, 5 months ago

Exactly which women's rights does Brownback oppose?

chootspa 1 year, 5 months ago

The Constitutional right to privacy.

Seth Peterson 1 year, 5 months ago

While both the other two comments are correct I was pointing out that boiled opposes women's rights based nearly completely on his ideology.

Orwell 1 year, 5 months ago

All rights that conflict with his dictatorial theocracy.

beezee 1 year, 5 months ago

In the same issue, a law enforcement officer interviewed totally supported the law Wells brays about. So once again we are reminded of the fact that the County Attorney is an elected position, generally filled by someone of the area-correct political flavor.

Thanks, Jerry, for sucking up yet again to the local establishment. I'm a CCH instructor (have been since the program began) and not ONE of my numerous students who got their license has been involved in ANY illegal activity since. If anything, said license has made them even MORE conscientious and situation-patient than before.

And by the way, I am CONFIDENT that the assorted Topeka and WY-County gang bangers are VERY deterred from carrying by the pretty, new signs adorning doorways. You know-- the ones that proclaim "Victim-rich Free-fire Zone Within."

repaste 1 year, 5 months ago

You have no way of knowing of the conduct of your "students" as long as they are not on the front page.

fiddleback 1 year, 5 months ago

Beezee, it sounds like you need to separate the training work you do from the reasonable objections to this law, among them being:

  1. The requirements for obtaining the license are arguably very slight, with insufficient psychological assessment to find out who is actually balanced and who is merely acting the part.
  2. This law forces already cash-strapped public institutions such as universities to pay for added security simply because they don't wish to have students coming to class armed.

So this misguided law creates the latter contention where none previously existed, and it highlights the potential inadequacies of the licensing process. It brings both issues to a head without offering any reasonable solutions, creating only partisan division and resentment. It was assembled by D- intellects, and in its myopic disregard of practical impacts, it fails to serve as constructive, thoughtful legislation worthy of anyone's support.

tomatogrower 1 year, 5 months ago

I happen to have a CCH license, and in my class all we did was talk about safety and laws. Then we shot at a target, not far away. One woman didn't even know how to load her newly purchased gun. She was a highly paranoid sounding person who couldn't wait to carry her gun. I will give the instructor credit. He did give her a list of shooting instructors, but he also approved her for her license. Now somewhere in Kansas is a woman who is carrying a gun in her purse, which at the time didn't have a holster, who may or may not have gotten lessons. And who is sure someone is out to get her. Not everyone who gets a license is conscientious. By the way, I never carry mine with me, because I"m not sure if I could kill someone, but I also have never been in a situation where I felt unsafe. I must be a liberal.

oldvet 1 year, 5 months ago

If you are not sure that you could use your weapon to defend yourself or another innocent person, then don't carry it. If you do carry it but still can't decide, be sure to file off the front site and grease the barrel, cause the bad guy will take it away from you and put it where the sun doesn't shine.

voevoda 1 year, 5 months ago

If the qualifications for acquiring a concealed-carry permit were as stringent as the qualifications for becoming a district attorney, your analogy, Pheps, might make sense.

But the problem is this: the requirements for getting a concealed carry permit are much too low. Individuals who do not have the skill to keep firearms safely, use them appropriately, and refrain from acting out of emotion still can easily obtain a concealed carry permit. Such individuals do not make themselves or (especially) the public safer when they carry weapons. On the contrary, they become part of the problem, putting themselves and everyone around them at risk. Persons who carry weapons need to be very well trained, and they need to remain under the scrutiny of others who can confirm that they have the skill and mental balance to use those weapons appropriately. That's why the Second Amendment makes allusion to a "well regulated Militia." If concealed-carry permit holders were required to enroll in and train with a unit that is empowered to take away their weapons if they fail skill tests or reveal signs of emotional instability, then I'd be fine with the law as written.

50YearResident 1 year, 5 months ago

Name some events these "low quality, emotional Concealed Cary holders" have done in Douglas County in the last 5 1/2 years that CC has been in effect. Back up your comments if you can.

voevoda 1 year, 5 months ago

Remember the guy last year who shot his wife by accident in a restaurant? Or doesn't he count because he wasn't in Douglas County? Or the woman tomatogrower (above) described?

If you are against strict skill and stability requirements for possession of firearms, you are just advocating putting weapons into the hands of people who will misuse them. That doesn't make any of us safer.

50YearResident 1 year, 5 months ago

No, it doesn't count, and the other one hasn't even happened. Now give me something else that wasn't accidental and out of the area. We are talking Douglas County for this discussion. Waiting...........

voevoda 1 year, 5 months ago

50YearResident, are you now prepared to argue that signs really do matter, and holders of conceal-carry permits never would cross a county line with their weapons? In that case, you may arbitrarily limit discussion to Douglas County. Otherwise, no dice.

Some more Kansas incidents by concealed-carry permit holders: Ronald Harner murdered his ex-girlfriend: http://www.kansas.com/2013/06/05/2833548/prosecutor-fatal-shooting-of-wichita.html Or this list of gun accidents in the past six months: http://accidentalgunshots.tumblr.com/search/kansas

Are you still convinced that all concealed-carry permit holders are responsible?

50YearResident 1 year, 5 months ago

Only one of these incidents are said to have a CC Permit, the first one, and that case has not been proved yet. Not all gun accidents are by Permit holders.

repaste 1 year, 5 months ago

Florida is trying an interesting case right now though, CC Mr. Zimmerman.

JSpizias 1 year, 5 months ago

..."That's why the Second Amendment makes allusion to a "well regulated Militia." If concealed-carry permit holders were required to enroll in and train with a unit that is empowered to take away their weapons if they fail skill tests or reveal signs of emotional instability, then I'd be fine with the law as written">>.

Voevoda, I suggest you learn how the militia of the US is defined. The unorganized militia is defined below. It appears you have little knowledge of either constitutional law or the militia. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/311) (a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard. (b) The classes of the militia are— (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

speedy47 1 year, 5 months ago

I must not be an average Kansan because I don't get it. It's illegal to drink and drive but it's okay to drink and carry. Looks disastrous to me. And FYI I'm not from Lawrence and I'm a real Republican.

Jean1183 1 year, 5 months ago

It's NOT okay to drink and carry. You must not know the law.

It is illegal for a concealed carry permit holder to have a weapon with a blood alcohol level of more than 0.08, the same level for driving under the influence.

speedy47 1 year, 5 months ago

Thanks for the clarification. So if a CC holder is OTL while carrying do they lose their CC? Do they do jail time for repeat offenses?

Jean1183 1 year, 5 months ago

" All it takes is a pressure cooker of emotional events to trigger an explosion of violence, including the use of whatever weapon is handy, such as a gun." " In any event, a concealed-carry license does not insure civilized behavior."

Mr. Wells, please tell me how a "no gun sign" insures that ANYONE (CCL holder or not) will not leave the meeting, go get a gun and return?

"No gun signs" are the most ridiculous things ever conceived. Who do you think they prevent from carrying guns in? Seems to me the logical answer is: sane, civilized, law abiding citizens.

Carol Bowen 1 year, 5 months ago

I don't recall a groundswell of interest in changing Kansas gun laws. Why did we need all these new gun laws? Did we have a problem? No one campaigned on this issue. There was no lobbying in the news. I suspect these laws are not necessary and devisive.

Orwell 1 year, 5 months ago

This is how the extremists get campaign contributions from Wayne LaPierre, the gun manufacturers' bagman.

jayhawklawrence 1 year, 5 months ago

I am just wondering what people like Jerry get out of following the loyal liberal party line because it looks like these people are brainwashed.

They want us to invest millions of dollars for protection from legal American citizens but they are currently not so worried about the thousands of criminals who are packing guns and commiting crimes.

And we wonder how the economy got so screwed up?

Jason Johnson 1 year, 5 months ago

People snap, I get that. Good, bad, people have a breaking point, whatever that is. The fact of the matter is, if someone is going to snap, they're going to ignore any gun buster signs. Face it, many of us carried even when it wasn't legal, for our protection.

jafs 1 year, 5 months ago

So much for the idea that those who have cc permits are "law abiding citizens", then.

hedshrinker 1 year, 5 months ago

 FYI, Jerry Wells was a Republican (may still be, he's a private citizen now) when he held the DA position....what I remember is that he  was a big supporter of the Victim-Witness support program thru the DA's office, which assists victims of violent crime navigate their way thru the legal system; their staff are vigilant advocates for survivors of domestic violence/rape/incest, sitting with them in the courtroom so they can confront their attackers and get  protection from abuse orders, sit through trials that put perpetrators in prison, etc.
  Unfortunately for all of us, the political party system has transformed so much in the last 20 years that previous party labels are unrecognizable;  the litmus tests of ideological purity, along with frequently untraceable infusion of millions of dollars, almost ensure gridlock..

jayhawklawrence 1 year, 5 months ago

I am just glad I live in a state where Democrats cannot take my gun away from me.

If we are going to have a system of background checks that would be alright with me but it never stops there. It never has.

jafs 1 year, 5 months ago

Background checks aren't enough. We'd also need mandated training and testing, to make sure that people with guns know the laws and how to use them correctly and safely.

Do you oppose that?

And, why do you think that any of us would want to "take your gun away"? Would you fail a background check, or be unable to learn how to use guns correctly, and the relevant laws about that?

Patricia Davis 1 year, 5 months ago

Not only that, I support a national database of gun owners. Because how else will we be able to contact them to militia up as the second amendment stipulates?

Thomas Bryce 1 year, 5 months ago

So, I assume from your statement, JL, that it would be OK with you if Republicans Took Your Guns Away? This Whole "They are trying to Take Your Guns" is Fear Mongering By the Right. The 2nd Amendment is Safe. Any type of Regulation of firearms(Reasonable or not) is ALWAYS opposed by the "They are gonna take your Guns" crowd. I am a Democrat and I do not want to take your guns away. I am a Gun owner, Soldier and a CCH license holder ,also. Quit buying into the Propaganda.

JSpizias 1 year, 5 months ago

Doubting Thomas, check out Eugene Volokh's site at: Gunscholar.org. His work was cited three times in Heller v DC. http://www.gunscholar.org/data.htm Democrats have been "gunning" to outlaw civilian ownership of weapons for a long time.

..."Former Sen. Bill Bradley, Al Gore's sole rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, is considering including a ban on the sale of handguns in an aggressive gun control plan that he will announce later in his campaign, the Associated Press reports.

          "I'm considering all the alternatives," the former New Jersey lawmaker said Monday in an interview with reporter Ron Fournier.  Mr. Bradley already has endorsed a " handgun card, " a photo identity card required of anybody carrying a handgun.

          Greg Pierce, Where's the Outrage?, Washington Times, May 26, 1999, at A6.

          Mayor Dianne Feinstein [now U.S. Senator, D.-Cal.] moved yesterday to make San Francisco the nation's first major city to ban handguns for personal use.

          UPI, Feinstein Seeks To Ban Handguns In San Francisco, Feb. 26, 1982.

          Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros and Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke signed the Communitarian Network's The Case for Domestic Disarmament, which among other thing said:

          There is little sense in gun registration.  What we need to significantly enhance public safety is domestic disarmament . . . .  Domestic disarmament entails the removal of arms from private hands . . . .  Given the proper political support by the people who oppose the pro-gun lobby, legislation to remove the guns from private hands, acts like the legislation drafted by Senator John Chafee [to ban handguns], can be passed in short order.

Thomas Bryce 1 year, 5 months ago

Yes, Democrats have been behind most Gun legislation in recent history. But It is Wrong to think ALL Democrats want to"Take Your Guns Away". That statement is simply Preposterous.One thing I would like to point out is that We still have firearms because the 2nd Amendment protects that right. That right is preserved by certain checks and Balances in our System of Government. These are the Same checks and Balances that the Republican party appear to be destroying on purpose.When these checks and balances are gone, Guns may be banned by a minority of support. You will be thanking the Republicans for that.

jafs 1 year, 5 months ago

I'd really like for someone who proclaims that cc permit holders are "law abiding citizens" to comment on the post about how many people who now get those permits carried before they were legal.

By definition, somebody who carried a gun before they were legally allowed to do so would be a "criminal".

So now, we have lots of people with cc permits who are criminals.

coebam 1 year, 5 months ago

The privilege of being anti-gun:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdkiLC06Nso

I could not have said it better myself.

jayhawklawrence 1 year, 5 months ago

Great link on YouTube!

Could not agree more about arrogant pacifism.

hedshrinker 1 year, 5 months ago

Most of the evils that we in Lawrence, KS will face will not come in the form of a gun; I would rather put my energy into helping foster an educated and emotionally healthy citizenry that is calmly going about its business is not fear and paranoia driven and is instead about creating a satisfying life for self, family and community, that can solve interpersonal and political conflicts thru excellent communication and negotiation skills. I DO have the privilege of not living in a war zone and some do not and obviously that affects the choices one makes about arming oneself....I do not want to take your guns away to protect yrself fr intruders, but our current gun purchasing and cc licensing system is seriously flawed and I think ultimately will create more public health hazards....mostly I am distressed that the drumbeat about arms communicates 1. that problems can be solved by violence and 2. that having a bigger gun and more of them will fix anything....the international fetishistic obsession with military arms demonstrates where we are headed.

kansasredlegs 1 year, 5 months ago

Mr. Wells: is this the kind of "criminal" you would have prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law? Doubtful, if you wanted a 2nd term even here in anti-gun Lawrence.

http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-05-20/local/39386923_1_dog-case-boy-d-c-office

jayhawklawrence 1 year, 5 months ago

It is a solemn responsibility of all Americans to protect liberty and to understand enough about the history of our country to realize that our liberty is always being threatened. It is logical to believe that when we lose our freedom it will not be because of invasion by a foreign power. It will come from our own citizens not fulfilling their responsibility to monitor and control the power of our own government.

When we look at the last 25 years and list all the ways our freedoms are being threatened within our own country, we cannot but consider that we have become the "frogs in the pan".

Why is this happening?

In my view, too much reliance on political parties to define our belief system is one of the major failings of the American people.

kawrivercrow 1 year, 5 months ago

"I was a prosecutor for over 20 years, Mr. Knox, and I can assure you that I was privy to numerous violent crimes perpetrated by people who, at least on the surface, could not conceivably be capable of such crimes."

Numerous times over 20 years? Just how many is 'numerous'? Is it as many people as have been struck by meteors since the beginning of recorded time? Assuming the population average of KS was 2.5 million people, then over 20 years he is talking 500 million people-years. That's a cumulative half-billion yearly chances that a seemingly normal person could commit an unexpected violent crime of the nature he is referring to. Yet, all he has to show for it is 'numerous' times a crime was committed by someone he did not know was capable of it.

Given the paucity of real crime committed by real CCW-holders, I think he should trade in his tin-foil hat for a lead helmet. After all, I see a falling star in the sky every so often and statistically, I can not deny that there is a chance on could land on his head.

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