Lawmakers won’t review concealed carry for blind

A little-known provision in Kansas law that allows the blind and other people with serious physical infirmities to carry concealed weapons in public places likely will not get reviewed by state lawmakers this session.

Kansas legislators are expected to debate a proposal that would allow concealed carry permit holders to bring their guns onto college campuses and into many public buildings.

But the chief proponent of that bill said Wednesday he has no plans to introduce legislation that would clarify a 2010 law change that removed the ability of the Kansas Attorney General to deny a concealed carry license based on a person “suffering a physical infirmity which prevents the safe handling of a weapon.”

“I’m just trying to address my specific issue,” said Rep. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona, who has introduced the legislation that would allow guns on campuses and in other public buildings, if those buildings don’t have certain electronic security devices in place. “I have made an intentional choice to stick with this one particular issue and not try to broaden it out too much.”

Chuck Sexson, who oversees the concealed carry program for the Kansas Attorney General’s office, said he also is not aware of any pending legislation that would address the state’s ability to deny a license when there is evidence that an individual can’t safely handle a weapon.

The change was included in a 2010 law that revamped much of the state’s six-year-old concealed carry program. The changes include eliminating the requirement that license holders take a shooting test in order to renew their license. But when lawmakers made that change, they also eliminated a more general provision that gave the state the ability to deny a license to somebody who clearly had a physical condition that made it impossible to safely handle a gun, such as blindness or other infirmities where people have lost control of their motor functions.

When the Journal-World first reported the law change in February 2011, the Kansas Attorney General’s office expressed surprise in the law change. The office conducted a review of the new statue and by June confirmed that the state no longer had the ability to deny renewal applications based on evidence that an applicant couldn’t physically handle a firearm in a safe manner.

But Attorney General Derek Schmidt has declined to comment on whether he thinks the law change has weakened the concealed carry program. This week, a spokesman for Schmidt said the Attorney General had brought the issue up to some legislators. But the spokesman did not respond to a question about whether Schmidt was concerned by the change in the law.

In other gun related news from the Statehouse:

• Legislation was introduced Tuesday that would no longer make it a crime for people to carry a concealed switch-blade knife or other similar knife-like devices. House Bill 2584 was introduced by the House’s Committee on Federal and State Affairs. The bill would change a portion of the state’s criminal use of weapons statute so that it would no longer be illegal to sell, manufacture, purchase or possess any knife, including switch-blades, daggers and dirks. The proposed law strictly prohibits cities from passing any local laws regulating the possession of knives. Attempts to reach Rep. Steve Brunk, chairman of the House’s Committee on Federal and State Affairs, were not successful Tuesday.

• House Bill 2421 would make it so that personal firearms that are manufactured inside the state of Kansas and remain inside the state’s boundaries would not be subject to federal gun registration laws. Rep. Connie O’Brien, R-Tonganoxie, and Rep. Jana Goodman, R-Leavenworth, introduced the bill. Attempts to reach either lawmaker were not successful.