Bill signed to close records of concealed gun permits

? Although critical of the idea, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius signed a bill Wednesday keeping Kansans in the dark about who has a concealed gun permit.

The record-closing language was folded into a broader bill addressing various shortcomings of the concealed guns law, which takes effect July 1 after lawmakers overrode the governor’s veto.

Closing records for concealed gun permit holders never received a committee hearing. Rather, it was tucked into a House-Senate conference committee report, and legislators had to accept or reject the entire package.

In criticizing the record-closing portion, Sebelius said in a statement: “I believe it should have received an open committee hearing in the Legislature. I also believe the records of licenses issued under this law should be open, like those of any other license.”

But Sebelius said the bill has good parts, which led her to sign it.

“Nevertheless, I believe the new concealed carry law is better with this proposal than without it. This bill will help keep guns out of the hands of those with serious mental illness and problems with substance abuse and will make the concealed carry law easier to administer,” she said. “These changes will make Kansans safer.”

Sebelius said she “will remain open to improving this law in the years to come.”

The record-closing idea came from a task force Atty. Gen. Phill Kline appointed on implementing the law, which didn’t close information about permit holders.

His office must start issuing permits by Jan. 1.

Under the legislation Sebelius signed, all records of permits are sealed except those of individuals whose licenses have been suspended or revoked.

Kansas will be among 48 states allowing residents to carry concealed guns. About two-thirds have closed their gun permit information to the public.

The concealed gun law permits Kansans to obtain four-year permits from the attorney general’s office if they are American citizens, 21 or older and have completed eight hours of training.

The law bars people from obtaining permits if they have ever been convicted of a felony. The bill Sebelius signed says anyone committed for mental illness or substance abuse can’t receive a permit until five years after obtaining the certificate of restoration.

Concealed guns still will be banned in some locations, including bars, taverns, schools, courthouses, churches and day-care centers. Also, property owners can declare hidden weapons off-limits by posting signs.