Kansas to join states allowing concealed guns without permit

? Kansas is poised to join a handful of other states that allow their residents to carry concealed firearms without a permit after the Legislature gave final approval Wednesday to a bill backed by the National Rifle Association.

The measure was headed to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback despite some lawmakers’ misgivings about the state dropping its requirement that anyone seeking to carry a concealed firearm undergo at least eight hours of training. Brownback’s office didn’t say what his plans are, but he’s signed every other major gun-rights measure sent to him since taking office in January 2011.

Kansas would become the fifth state to allow concealed carry without a permit everywhere within its borders, according to the NRA.

“Carrying a gun is a lifestyle,” said Republican Rep. Travis Couture-Lovelady. “The government should trust its citizens.”

The House approved the bill Wednesday on an 85-39 vote. The Senate passed it last month, but a House committee made a technical change that senators had to review. The Senate signed off, 31-8, about two hours after the House’s vote.

The House also approved, 100-24, a bill prohibiting cities and counties from imposing special fees and taxes on guns or gun sales. It would follow up on a law last year aimed at nullifying local restrictions and goes to the Senate.

All states allow some form of concealed carry, but the NRA says only Alaska, Arizona, Vermont and Wyoming allow it everywhere in the state without a permit, though Montana allows it without a permit outside of cities, which is most of the state. In West Virginia, lawmakers passed a bill, but Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed it.

The Republican-dominated Kansas Legislature has strong gun-rights majorities in both chambers, and Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce was the bill’s leading sponsor. The NRA joined the Kansas State Rifle Association in pushing for it, while the state chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence sought to block it.

Kansas enacted its concealed carry law in 2006 and about 87,000 people 21 and older hold valid permits. A person seeking a permit must pay $132.50 in fees besides undergoing the eight hours of firearms training.

State law has long allowed people to carry firearms openly without requiring training, and backers of the bill said gun owners have shown they are responsible with their firearms.

“Kansans already have two documents granting them the right to concealed carry — the Constitution of the United States and the Kansas Constitution,” Couture-Lovelady said. “That should be all they need.”

Even if the bill is enacted, the state would continue to issue permits so that its residents could carry concealed in other states recognizing the Kansas permit.

But even some gun-rights supporters said they were nervous about no longer requiring training for everyone who wants to carry concealed. House Minority Leader Tom Burroughs, a Kansas City Democrat, said that in continually lessening restrictions in Kansas lawmakers are “getting caught up in extremism.”

And Rep. John Wilson, a Lawrence Democrat, said: “I have concerns with the type of culture that we’re creating, when guns are in more places, particularly among children.”