Calling the state’s actions “asinine,” Lawrence city commissioners on Tuesday refused to fall in line with a new state law that allows people to bring switchblades, daggers and other knives into bars and public places.
Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously refused to change the city’s code to accommodate a new state law that says residents can carry concealed a variety of knives.
“We have taken an oath that says we’re here to protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens, and now we’re being told by the state to allow weapons that really are meant to do just one thing,” said City Commissioner Bob Schumm. “At some point, somebody has to stand up to this because it is dangerous stuff.”
The city’s refusal to change its city code is unlikely to have any practical impact on the ability of people to legally carry concealed knives in Lawrence.
Staff attorney Randy Larkin told commissioners that the new state law — when it takes effect July 1 — will supersede the city’s code. In other words, he said, the city would not find it practical to try to enforce the city code provision outlawing the carrying of concealed knives.
Schumm — who is a downtown restaurant and bar owner — urged commissioners to reject the proposed change to the city’s code anyway in hopes that it would send a message and perhaps encourage other cities to make the same statement.
His fellow commissioners said they were willing to give the tactic a try.
“It is asinine what is happening in Topeka,” City Commissioner Jeremy Farmer said.
The state law allowing the concealed carry of knives is different than the state’s law allowing the concealed carry of firearms. The firearms law requires residents wishing to carry concealed to go through background checks, training and receive a state license. The knife law requires no such background checks, training or licenses.
The new law — HB 2033 — simply strikes from existing state law the provisions that prohibited the concealed carry of a variety of knives, including switchblades, daggers, dirks, straight-edged razors and stilettos. Lawrence had similar language in its local code that outlawed the concealed carry of essentially all knives other than standard pocket knives with a blade four inches or less.
The bill was approved on a 40-0 vote by the Kansas Senate and on a 95-26 vote in the Kansas House.
Schumm, who also has criticized the state’s broadening of the concealed carry firearms law to include public buildings unless they have metal detectors, said he’s surprised the bill didn’t have more opposition.
“It scares the hell out of me,” Schumm said of the prospect of patrons carrying switchblade knives or daggers into bars. “I was awestruck by the complete allowance of these type of lethal weapons. They are built to be lethal weapons.”
Larkin, the staff attorney, said the city could find its local law challenged in court, and could be forced to remove from its code the provisions that conflict with state law.
“I guess we’ll cross that bridge if we get to it,” Mayor Mike Dever said.