Editorial: Gun grandstanding
The state law exempting Kansas-made guns from federal regulation raises some interesting legal questions.
A state law that exempts firearms manufactured in Kansas from all federal regulations has drawn a lot of attention recently — from both supporters and critics.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has filed a lawsuit about the 2013 law that declares the federal government has no authority to regulate guns, ammunition and accessories manufactured, sold and kept in Kansas. The Brady Center said the law is an unconstitutional attempt to nullify federal gun laws.
Gov. Sam Brownback’s re-election campaign used the lawsuit as a springboard to send out a fundraising email saying the Brady Center was suing the governor “for protecting the Second Amendment rights of Kansans.”
Regardless of which side of this debate you’re on, the “Second Amendment Protection Act” certainly raises some interesting issues.
The statute makes it a felony for any federal employee to enforce federal gun regulations on Kansas only-weapons. It also says no state or local officials can attempt to enforce any federal gun regulations on Kansas-only weapons.
The Brady Center lawsuit already guarantees that this state law is headed to federal court. What will happen if the state tries to charge a federal official with a felony for trying to enforce a federal law?
The law declares that Kansas-only guns are exempt from any federal regulations. So what, if any, regulations will those firearms be subject to? Will Kansas manufacturers now be allowed to make guns without serial numbers, making it difficult to trace any gun involved in a crime? Can they legally make guns that can elude mental detectors or other security devices? Can such guns be sold without the background checks required by federal law?
Eliminating federal regulations without setting any state regulations on Kansas-only guns poses a significant safety issue for Kansas residents. However, setting and enforcing a set of Kansas-only regulations likely would represent a new expense for state taxpayers.
It’s pretty obvious that the Second Amendment Protection Act was intended more as a political protest than as a practical benefit for Kansans. Only time will tell how many tax dollars the state will spend to defend a law that has little chance of standing up to constitutional scrutiny.