Chat with Sen. Phil Journey about concealed carry

Welcome to our online chat with Sen. Phil Journey about concealed carry.

The chat took place on Thursday, March 30, at 12:00 PM and is now closed, but you can read the full transcript on this page.

Moderator: Welcome to our online chat today with Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville, who is the sponsor of the new concealed carry law in Kansas.

I’m Dave Toplikar, World Online editor, and I’ll be moderating today’s chat.

The senator had planned to come to our offices today in Lawrence. But his duties in the Senate today force him to stay in Topeka.

So I’m relaying these questions to him by phone and typing in his responses.

For those unfamiliar with the issue, the Kansas Legislature last week overrode the governor’s veto of a bill that will let Kansans get a legal permit to carry concealed guns.

The first permits are expected to be issued in January 2007.

We have lots of questions from our readers around the state so we’ll go ahead and get started.

Mike, Kansas City: Will Kansas recognize other state’s concealed-carry permits?

Sen. Phil Journey: One of the improvements in the bill was to require the attorney general to evaluate the permit system in other states to ensure that their permits had as strict of rules or better than Kansas. The attorney general is authorized to enter into agreements with other states. It will take time for the reviews to be completed, but eventually, Kansas permits should be recognized by over 20 different states.

Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville.

John/Lawrence: How does one go about signing up for a permit to conceal? How much is the cost going to be?

Sen. Phil Journey: The application fee is $150. The acceptance of permit applications must begin on July 1. We are now in the process of drafting the administrative rules and regulations for implementation of Senate Bill 418. I hope that we will be able to accept applications before July 1.

Ottawa, KS: If concealed carry is such a good idea, how come guns are banned in the Statehouse?

Sen. Phil Journey: Originally in 2004 I supported a floor amendment in the Senate that would have allowed permit holders in the state capitol. However, the political judgment was made to make the bill have the highest probability of enactment. In the 21 exclusion zones, most are in areas or buildings of the state that have public security. And that was the main reason most of those were included in the bill, and that would include the statehouse.

JT, McLouth: Being anti-gun control, I think this new law is ludicrous. A statement by an individual who favored the concealed weapon law went something to the effect of “criminals are rational human-beings and will think twice before committing a crime because they don’t know who might be carrying a weapon.” Couldn’t it be possible that the opposite occurs? For example, if criminal truly wanted something, what would prevent him from shoot first and then committing the crime? I don’t for one second buy that rational plays into the equation. After all, in the heat of the moment, wouldn’t it seem rational to eliminate all uncertainties, like shooting someone because they might have a gun?

Sen. Phil Journey: I have practiced law for 21 years, worked on exclusively criminal and traffic cases that included over 60,000 cases being resolved. Most criminals seek advantage and desire to avoid confrontation. They only seek gain and do not desire to be shot in the process. Other states have shown that enactment of this legislation does deter violent crime and even demonstrates a shift to less confrontational property crime, such as burglarizing a car stereo.

Mel, Topeka: What are your thoughts about women carrying for protection being overpowered and having a concealed weapon used against them?

Sen. Phil Journey: Each person who chooses to possess a firearm should consider the ramifications for them of using the firearm and the psychological consequences of that use. This bill is about choice. The person with appropriate training and psychological preparation will not hesitate to protect themselves or another person. I hope that knowledge of this facet will be included in the training requirements so that applicants contemplate the meaning of possession of a firearm. The Department of Justice and Florida State University victimization surveys have shown that over 99 percent of the time when a firearm is used to prevent a potential violent crime, it is only brandished. For every time a firearm is used to commit a violent crime, a firearm is used two or three times to prevent a potential violent crime. There is a good side to firearms ownership that we seldom hear in the media or in the news because tragedy is averted.

Mike, Overbrook: Do you believe as I do that it will drop the crime rate?

Sen. Phil Journey: Crime and the cause of violent crime is a complicated sociological problem and can seldom be expressed or analyzed in looking at a single factor. I do believe Senate Bill 418 will be a deterrent to violent crime. Whether that deterrent will be expressed in a reduction in the potential for an increase in violent crime or a real reduction in the rate of violent crime is yet to be seen. Experience from other states demonstrates at least a relationship in the timing of enactment and a reduction of violent crime and is apparent in the work of professor John Lott and David Mustard, which is the most comprehensive study of the right to carry enactment and violent crime rates showing a correlation between enactment and the reduction in the rate of violent crime. Their work is titled “More Work, Less Crime.”

Jane from Lawrence: When one observes drivers’ vindictive and potentially dangerous behavior…throwing a finger, yelling, even bumping into the offending car… when another car cuts in in front of them for example, what do you think will happen if those angry drivers have weapons in their pockets ? Will you feel safer ? I won’t. I’m scared already. And that’s just one example.

Sen. Phil Journey: I knew Chicken Little was alive and well in Kansas, but I wondered when he would show up. The fact is that Senate Bill 418 has far stricter provisions prohibiting applicants from receiving licenses than the current prohibitions for possessing a firearm. Basically applicants who receive a permit must demonstrate a lifetime of compliance with the law. Simply possessing a firearm will not change behavior. Florida reviewed the per capita violent crime rate for permit holders and compared that rate per capita to the rest of the state’s population, finding that non permit holders were 900 times more likely to commit a violent crime.

Tim, Oppressive Park, KS: Will records be accessible to the public (anti-gun orgs and criminals) as to who has a carry license and where they live?

Sen. Phil Journey: That’s a very good question I expect to deal with in the rules and regulations. I hope to restrict public access to permit holders’ personal information and expect the attorney general to have the same position. This was not contemplated in the drafting of the bill and shall be dealt with as fast as possible.

Jake, Lawrence: Thank you for your work on this bill Sen. Journey. Why did it take Kansas, being such a conservative state, so long to get this bill passed? Did the last elections change the vote or were opinions changed among your fellow senators?

Sen. Phil Journey: Most know that I’ve been working on this legislation for 14 years, long before I entered the Kansas Senate. And I believe the thing that has moved this issue forward is not individuals like myself but grassroots political action and legislator contact. Supporters of the bill are the team, while I’m just the quarterback.

Dave – Leavenworth County: Will gun registration be required? Will you only be able to carry the one weapon you register?

Sen. Phil Journey: No. Current administrative regulations require private detectives to qualify with each individual firearm. There is no such requirement in Senate Bill 418. Once you’re licensed, you can carry anything you want.

Brad, Shawnee: Where can a person find information on what must be contained in the classroom portion of the required training before getting a permit?

Sen. Phil Journey: That will be determined in the rules and regulations adopted. Contact attorney general Phill Kline. His Web site is accepting potential applicant information so they can be updated during the process of drafting and adoption of the rules and regs.

Natalie, Wichita: As a black woman, I think this is a great idea. As hateful as this state is, I need protection at all times, especially in a place like Wichita. I assume this law will cover those of us in fear of hate crimes to protect ourselves and our families? I definitely will encourage my LGBT friends to protect themselves and their families as I’m sure Fred Phelps will be packing.

Sen. Phil Journey: Natalie brings up a great point. The history of gun control comes from the racist routes of the Jim Crow laws enacted after the Civil War. Other gun rights groups across the United States have participated in training for African Americans. And groups that I know of in Washington State have started training gays and lesbians and called the organization the Pink Pistols. All citizens should have the right to protect themselves regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation.

Dave, Leavenworth County: I have read that this law will go into effect on 1 JUL 06 but that permits will not be issued until 1 JAN 07. Is this true? Why will it take so long to implement this new program?

Sen. Phil Journey: Yes, the basic reading of the bill is accurate. Those are deadlines that have to be met. We hope that the system will be up and running before that and are basically a worst-case scenario on the timeline.

Joe from Topeka: Senator, what do you say to those people who insist that if more people are allowed to carry guns in public (legally)…it just means the greater the chance for some sort of “wild west shootout” to occur somewhere in Kansas (like in a crowded shopping mall or restaurant) . Personally, I like the idea of people being allowed (legally) to carry a weapon on their person (assuming that they are properly trained and licensed to do so). I am convinced that if someone were legally allowed to carry a gun on their person way back in 1994 when Colin Ferguson went nuts on that Long Island, New York commuter train…someone would have shot Ferguson before he could have killed all of the people that he killed. It’s my feeling that those who argue against such a measure are trying to control others (and other people’s choices). It’s ironic to me that many of the same people who argue against a person being able to carry a firearm on their person….are, in fact, the very same people who argue for a “woman’s right to choose”.

Sen. Phil Journey: The fears of opponents of this legislation of shootouts in the streets over parking spaces and minor automobile accidents have been raised repeatedly as similar legislation was adopted in other states. In each and every state, one can find newspaper articles one year after enactment, where opponents who made these wild claims admit they were wrong. There are many anecdotal cases where individuals with firearms and permits to carry have saved the lives of strangers and law enforcement by happening upon a violent crime or an attempted arrest gone wrong.

Mike, Baldwin: Are you concerned about individuals who when angry or intoxicated and will have a firearm with them, make rash decisions that harm either themselves or someone else? These are people who have had no criminal history but would normally have had a “cool down” time before making decisions about when to use a gun.

Sen. Phil Journey: There are provisions in Senate Bill 418 that make it a crime punishable by up to a year in custody and revocation of the permit if a permit holder is in possession of a firearm and under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It can be a prescription.

Al from Topeka: At about 11:30 this morning, the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature passed LB 454, the Nebraska Personal Protection Act. The Concealed Carry bill will now go to Governor Dave Heineman, who has promised to sign it.

Sen. Phil Journey: That is true. I just had this verified before coming online. Now that means that 48 states will have legislation that will allow citizens to possess firearms away from their homes or businesses. The two remaining states are Illinois and Wisconsin. In Wisconsin, twice in the last year, the Legislature failed by one or two votes to override their governor’s veto.

Tim R. , Oppressive Park, KS: Is a console, glove compartment, or trunk considered an enclosed container under last years transport law? – If when I get in the car and put my car gun in the console, am I still carrying or am I transporting?

Sen. Phil Journey: Senate Bill 195 signed by Gov. Sebelius last year pre-empted city ordinances and set a consistent standard from the state. Transportation of a firearm any where in the state of Kansas is legal as long as the firearm is unloaded and in a container. My definition of a container can be as little as a Ziplock Baggie.

David, Lawrence: Do you think that the number of exceptions (places concealed carry is not allowed), along with allowing businesses to post no-guns policies will create such a “geographic patchwork” that it undermines the intent of allowing concealed carry?

Sen. Phil Journey: No.

Sen. Phil Journey: When you slice the baloney, you take it a slice at a time. And this is a great improvement for Kansans to have the means to protect their lives and their family.

Louise, Lawrence: Senator, several years ago, a young man got into a fight at a local bar over a pool game, went out to his car, came back in and shot and killed the man. Don’t you understand that the more guns people carry, the more deaths will occur, the less chance we all have of surviving altercations. The math of probabilities makes this fairly certain. More guns also mean more people having their firearms taken away from them and used against them. This society has too many guns as it is. Why would you increase the probabilities that people, especially innocent bystanders, will die? And whether the occasional law enforcement person says they support it, haven’t you increased the situations in which officers may have to shoot someone? And haven’t you just destroyed a means by which our local officers can use probable cause to seize firearms from convicted felons?

Sen. Phil Journey: If all those things were true, then one of the 46 states that have adopted legislation similar to Senate Bill 418, there would have been at least one credible attempt to repeal the law. No such effort has been successful.

Sen. Phil Journey: Under the current law, it is illegal to possess a firearm in a bar. Under current law it is illegal to shoot another person, except in self defense. Tragic deaths occur. This bill gives Kansans the choice to protect themselves or others. The probability of increased accidents, accidental shootings as the results of intentional discharge or other issues brought by Louise have not bee statistically significant or relative in the experience of 46 other states.

John/Lawrence: If an applicant had a single DUI in their history with a diversion and all it’s requirements completed successfully, would they still be eligible for a permit?

Sen. Phil Journey: Yes. If they have two DUIs, they will not be able to get a permit. Another important component that I had intended to have enacted last year is currently in conference committee, Senate Bill 221, which creates a database for the attorney general and the FBI to prevent people who have been involuntarily committed to a state mental institution from legally possessing a firearm.

Moderator: That will be our last question today. The Senator says he would like to do this again when the rules and regulations are prepared, at least in a draft form.

Sen. Phil Journey: I enjoyed the experience. Assuming I get out of the Senate on Friday night and every Friday after that, I do a TV show, Webcast and broadcast. Viewers here can log on to Fridays at 7 CST. We’ll have 800 numbers for them to call in on. It’s broadcast on Channel 5 in Wichita and they Webcast it live too.