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Eagle editorial: Gun-ban control

  • Published Thursday, March 7, 2013, at 6:39 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, March 7, 2013, at 6:40 p.m.

Kansas lawmakers keep chipping away at the concealed-carry law’s exceptions without regard for the will of cities, counties and the Kansas Board of Regents.

The latest effort to expand concealed-carry came Wednesday with a House committee’s approval of House Bill 2055, which would require the state, cities, counties and townships to allow concealed-carry permit holders to carry guns in their buildings unless they have electronic equipment and officers to check for weapons at public entrances.

That same reality awaits state universities and colleges and government-owned hospitals and nursing homes, thanks to an exemption that merely buys them four years to comply. Some institutions may find the means to buy metal detectors and staff security checkpoints. But many won’t be able to manage the cost and logistics, and the no-gun signs will have to come down.

An amendment to make the four-year exemption renewable was defeated by the committee, as was one to exempt community mental health centers. So much for the Sedgwick County Commission’s 2011 decision to leave Comcare’s dozen facilities off the list of county buildings where concealed-carry newly would be allowed. If more public buildings must allow concealed guns, the county’s thoughtful, site-specific process, which inspired a more contentious version by the city of Wichita later that year, is a better method than a legislative fiat.

The other wrinkle added in committee this week would allow school boards and university and college presidents to designate employees who could carry concealed guns inside their facilities. That makes some sense in the world of education post-Sandy Hook, at least for those who share the National Rifle Association’s view that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” But the provision also would instantly introduce gun politics to the local school board table and the college president’s office.

State Rep. Steve Brunk, R-Wichita, argued that the decision for universities shouldn’t be up to the Board of Regents, which opposes concealed-carry of firearms on its campuses. (The student government associations at the regents institutions similarly approved resolutions in opposition.) But it’s hard to see a justification for disregarding the will of the regents, who are responsible for higher-education policymaking in Kansas.

Conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia took pains to say the court’s 2008 ruling in a D.C. case shouldn’t cast doubt on “laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.”

It seems that in the eyes of many state legislators, no place in Kansas is too sensitive for concealed guns – with the notable exception of the Statehouse in which they write the laws they would apply to others.

For the editorial board, Rhonda Holman

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