Editorial: Irresponsible government

Lawmakers should be ashamed for prioritizing ideology over decent treatment of their constituents.

There are many Kansas legislators who should not be sleeping well these days. Their guilty consciences should keep them awake.

There have long been people who have wondered how legislators sleep at night after passing some of the fiscal policies that have created tremendous budgetary strain for the state. But now it appears that actions by lawmakers may land a couple of perhaps-unwitting Kansans in jail.

Lawmakers in 2013 passed the Kansas Second Amendment Protection Act, which says firearms, accessories and ammunition manufactured and kept within the borders of Kansas are exempt from federal gun control laws. Kansas lawmakers passed the law despite being plainly told that it was in conflict with federal law.

Now, the predictable has happened. A jury in November delivered eight guilty verdicts to a Kansas gun shop owner who was selling these “Kansas-made” firearms and a customer who owned a “Kansas-made silencer. This week, a federal judge upheld their convictions and rejected the notion that the Kansas law somehow shielded them from federal prosecution.

None of this should come as a surprise, but it apparently did to the two individuals, Shane Cox and Jeremy Kettler. An attorney for Kettler argued that Kettler and many other Kansans were under the mistaken belief that the Kansas Second Amendment Protection Act was valid and protected them from federal prosecution.

Kansas lawmakers ought to ask themselves how Kettler got that impression. Kansans should have had a fairly good understanding that the Kansas law was unconstitutional by reading media reports from the time the law was passed. But many of the same lawmakers who voted for this bill also do their best to convince constituents that the “mainstream media” can’t be trusted. What baloney.

However, it also should be reasonable for Kansans to believe that following a new state law won’t get them prosecuted under federal law.

Instead, Kansas residents were duped by ideologues. That is what this issue is about, more so than the Second Amendment. People who believe federal gun laws are trampling on their Second Amendment rights are free to believe so. They may even be right in some instances. But the proper course of action is to work through the judicial system to win those legal victories. Don’t pass a law that does nothing more than please your ideology, and then encourage Kansans to go do as they please. That’s irresponsible.

It is not surprising, however, in Kansas. State government has become dominated by ideologues. Their hidebound devotion to an ideology threatens to leave the state with an empty bank account. And now it threatens to put two Kansans in a jail cell. That doesn’t sound like government for the people.