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June 19, 2013

Sedgwick County Commission will ask for six-month exemption from upcoming state conceal-carry law

Sedgwick County will ask that 19 buildings it owns or leases be exempt for six months from a new state law allowing concealed-carry handguns.

Sedgwick County will ask that 19 buildings it owns or leases be exempt for six months from a new state law allowing concealed-carry handguns.

Commissioners voted 3-2 on Wednesday to ask for the exemption.

A law beginning July 1 allows concealed-carry permit holders to take handguns into public buildings, including courthouses, police stations and libraries, across the state. City and county governments can prohibit concealed carry in certain buildings as long as “adequate security measures,” as defined by the state law, are in place.

The six months will give cities and counties time to figure out how to provide security.

Commissioners considered 25 buildings for exemption, but a motion by board member Richard Ranzau whittled the list to 19. Commissioner Karl Peterjohn gave Ranzau a second, and Chairman Jim Skelton voted for it. Commissioners Tim Norton and Dave Unruh voted against the motion, saying they wanted to exempt all 25 buildings for the six-month time period.

The county had banned handguns at 27 of the buildings it owns or leases. Five — including the courthouse — meet the security requirements of the new law, so they will continue to not allow handguns.

The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office asked for three additional offices to be exempt from the new law: its offender registration unit, squad room, and property and evidence area. Commissioners voted to exempt the squad room but not the other areas.

Counties and cities can ask for a four-year exemption after the first of the year. Whether the county will is unknown. Part of what the county will study in the next six months is the cost of providing security at the exempted buildings.

The Wichita City Council voted 5-2 on Tuesday to seek a six-month exemption in some of its buildings.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is charged with considering the exemptions.

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