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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Kansas on list for 'Craziest Gun Laws'

By Suzanne Perez Tobias
The Wichita Eagle

A national gun control group has singled out Kansas for its "Craziest Gun Laws" award, citing a law the group says allows guns in schools.

State and local officials, however, say a bill signed by Gov. Sam Brownback last month clarified but did not change Kansas law, which prevents concealed-carry permit holders from taking guns into any building that posts no-gun signs on its doors.

"If those (signs) are posted, individuals cannot carry (firearms) into those buildings," said Chuck Sexson, director of the concealed-carry program for the Kansas Attorney General's Office.

"Most schools around the state have posted their buildings. ... So that hasn't changed."

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence issued its annual ranking of gun laws in the 50 states earlier this month. Included in the group's scorecard were four "Craziest Gun Laws" awards, which went to Kansas, Virginia, Utah and Florida.

In a blurb that made the rounds through e-mail, Twitter and Facebook recently, Kansas earned the dubious honor "for allowing guns in K-12 schools."

"We want to prevent the next Tucson, Virginia Tech or Columbine," said Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign, which is based in Washington, D.C. "It's too easy now for dangerous people to get guns and to legally carry them in all sorts of public places."

When Kansas lawmakers passed concealed carry in 2006, they placed certain places off-limits, including schools, bars, churches, libraries and day care centers.

Since then, revisions have required those places to post no-gun signs on doors or at the entrances to outdoor areas, such as football stadiums, before they can be off-limits to concealed-carry permit holders.

Sexson, the concealed-carry director, said local school boards decide whether to post signs on school buildings. He didn't know whether any districts have chosen to allow concealed-carry weapons in schools, but he said "it's possible."

Tom Powell, attorney for the Wichita school board, said he doesn't expect the newest revisions to House Bill 2339, signed into law last month, to affect the Wichita district.

"The way we read it, they (guns) still aren't allowed where signs are posted, and we have signs posted," he said.

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com.

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