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Bill barring local government from passing gun laws on its way to Brownback

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, April 5, 2014, at 5:20 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, April 24, 2014, at 5:30 p.m.

— A bill that nullifies local government control over guns shot through the House and to the governor’s desk in the waning hours of the regular session Saturday.

House Bill 2578 would prohibit cities and counties from passing or enforcing any ordinance regulating the “purchase, transfer, ownership, storage, carrying, or transporting of firearms, ammunition, or any related component.”

It would also ban local units of government from inquiring whether an employee has a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

If the governor sign the bill into law, counties and cities could bar municipal employees from carrying weapons in work vehicles and from openly carrying a gun on the job, said Rep. Jim Howell, R-Derby, who sponsored the legislation in the House.

The bill leaves in place a current law allowing employees with concealed-carry permits to bring their guns to work for self-protection, unless they work in a building secured with metal detectors and guards, or a location covered by a temporary exemption to the concealed-carry statute passed last year.

Howell said it is necessary to end patchwork regulation that can be confusing for gun owners who carry their weapons from town to town.

The bill also:

•  Requires local law enforcement chiefs to approve transfers of machine guns to private buyers within 15 days of receiving the request, or provide a specific reason not to approve the transfer. “A generalized belief by the chief law enforcement officer that certain firearms have no lawful purpose and that certain persons should not possess such firearms shall not be sufficient reason to deny certification,” the bill explanation said.

• Mandates that law enforcement agencies auction off firearms that they seize in crime investigations, unless the gun had been used in a homicide.

• Prohibits open carrying of firearms in private businesses that are prominently posted as not allowing weapons.

• Establishes penalties for openly carrying a gun when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

• Frees cities and counties from liability if an employee commits a wrongful act with a firearm.

• Bans local governments from using taxpayer money for gun “buy-back” programs to remove weapons from circulation.

The bill received final approval on a vote of 102-19.

Most of the concerns opponents expressed had little to do with the gun policies in the bill.

The most common complaints were about passing bills from the Senate without House committee hearings, or stepping on local control.

“Kansas is a beautifully diverse state – that’s what I love about it,” said Rep. Kathy Wolf Moore, D-Kansas City. “One-size legislation doesn’t fit all … I don’t think we need to smother locals with our state policies.”

Reach Dion Lefler at 316-268-6527 or dlefler@wichitaeagle.com.

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