Prairie Village will fight to keep ban on open carry of firearms

Suit filed by Libertarian Party challenges a rule that keeps citizens safe, city official says.

12/26/2012 12:47 PM

12/26/2012 12:47 PM

Prairie Village said Monday that it will defend its right to ban open carry of firearms.

The Libertarian Party of Kansas had filed lawsuits last week against Prairie Village, Leawood, and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., seeking injunctions in district court to prevent them from enforcing their bans.

Prairie Village announced Monday that it would “vigorously defend home rule authority and this challenge by a pro-gun organization to the city’s ability to enact gun control measures within its borders.”

City officials said having the power to ban the open carry of guns is an effort to “protect the safety and security of the citizens of Prairie Village.” City administrator Quinn Bennion said City Council members believe residents support the ban. Officials in Leawood and the Unified Government were not available to comment Monday.

Bennion said attorneys for Prairie Village and the two other governments have been in discussions for several weeks about defending their bans. He said the cities expected to be sued after receiving a letter from the Libertarian Party of Kansas stating that it would file lawsuits if they did not agree to lift their bans.

Libertarian officials had intended to file the suits earlier, but they delayed the move a week after the massacre of 20 elementary school children and six adults in Connecticut.

The Libertarian Party’s suit against Prairie Village alleges that city codes are in conflict with the Kansas Constitution and the Kansas statute and that the cities are violating citizens’ constitutional rights.

A portion of the state constitution, referred to by Libertarian officials, states: “A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and state, for lawful hunting and recreational use, and for any other lawful purpose.”

In a statement on Friday, party officials said they would continue to fight against bans of the open carry of firearms in Kansas cities “until all law-abiding citizens in Kansas have freedom from persecution to exercise their Second Amendment rights to bear arms by open carry.”

Lenexa is the only other city in Kansas that bans open carry, according to Libertarian Party officials. But the party did not sue that city because, according to Libertarian officials, Lenexa recently said it would discuss the matter with the party.

Last year, the Kansas attorney general issued a legal opinion saying that cities could regulate how weapons are carried but that an outright ban violated state law. Since then, several cities, including Gardner, Wichita and Overland Park, have rescinded bans, but when Overland Park officials acted in September to lift its ban, many citizens complained.

City officials there are now considering restrictions beyond existing requirements that firearms be holstered, have the safety engaged and be within a person’s immediate control.

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