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Kris W. Kobach: Setting the record straight on the Second Amendment Protection Act

  • Published Tuesday, May 20, 2014, at 6:15 p.m.

Last week, Jason Probst wrote a Hutchinson News editorial that illustrates perfectly why most Kansans no longer trust the editorial page. In it, Probst hyperventilated that because I’m a shareholder in a new Kansas gun company – Minuteman Defense, in Overland Park – I must have done something wrong by advocating the Second Amendment Protection Act, which the Kansas Legislature passed in 2013.

Probst’s editorial is short on facts and long on partisan ranting. But three problems stand out.

First, Probst didn’t do his homework. He claimed that during the time the Legislature was deliberating on the bill, I was a shareholder in Minuteman Defense – suggesting that would somehow create a conflict of interest. Had he done his research, Probst would have learned that the Kansas Legislature held hearings on the bill in February and March of 2013. But Minuteman Defense LLC didn’t even come into existence until Aug. 21, 2013 – nearly five months later. I had no idea in March that I’d get the opportunity to help a new Kansas gun company get off the ground later in the year.

Second, Probst misrepresents what the Second Amendment Protection Act does. It doesn’t create any special benefits or privileges for anyone, as he suggested when he accused me of “crony capitalism.” What the act does is preserve the status quo in Kansas – where the Second Amendment still has some meaning – against a possible federal overreach if Congress tries again to ban entire categories of guns. The act would protect guns, ammunition, and accessories made in Kansas if they never leave the state.

More importantly, the Second Amendment Protection Act protects every gun owner and every gun manufacturer in the state – including the hundreds of amateur gunsmiths who assemble their own guns at home, now that component parts are readily available just about everywhere. It doesn’t give any person or company a special privilege.

Third, Probst pretends that his editorial is based on concern for the “poor, the middle class, the sick, and the elderly,” and he suggests that Minuteman Defense won’t help them. Here too, Probst is wrong. Just ask the disabled Iraq War veteran who is Minuteman Defense’s chief gunsmith, or the unemployed Kansans who will find jobs working for the company.

In short, we need more gun manufacturers in Kansas, not less. What Probst doesn’t seem to realize is that for our Second Amendment rights to be meaningful, firearms and ammunition must be readily available for all law-abiding citizens. Just ask anyone who tried to buy 9 mm ammunition during 2009.

To the radical left, that doesn’t make sense. But to the rest of us, it does. And the Kansas Legislature gets it, too. That’s why the Second Amendment Protection Act passed by a bipartisan 96-24 vote in the House and a whopping 35-4 vote in the Senate.

I’m happy that I live in a state where the right to keep and bear arms is held dear. As a lifelong hunter and shooter, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

But Washington, D.C., is a very different place. Bills to take away our firearms and limit our ammunition are constantly being proposed in Congress. And only five of the nine justices on the Supreme Court believe that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep a handgun in the home. Our rights are far from secure in that environment.

In Kansas we’re doing what we can to keep our Second Amendment rights intact. Probst can call me whatever names he wants. But it won’t change my determination to protect the right to keep and bear arms.

Kris W. Kobach is the secretary of state of Kansas.

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