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Bill easing gun laws for dealers, ex-juvenile offenders heads to Kansas governor

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TOPEKA — Following on the heels of the Senate, the Kansas House on Tuesday approved a gun bill benefiting ex-juvenile offenders and gun dealers.

The bill contains two significant changes to gun law:

▪ It allows people who committed felony-level crimes as juveniles to qualify to carry concealed weapons and obtain concealed-carry permits. Those ex-offenders are banned for life from carrying concealed guns under current law.

▪ It limits the authority of city and county governments to regulate federally licensed gun dealers in their communities, prohibiting municipalities from requiring gun sellers to have a local business license or using zoning authority to ban home-based gun businesses. That provision was backed by Kelly Arnold, chairman of the state Republican Party and the Sedgwick County clerk, who has a sideline gun business.

The bill passed the House 96-14 and now goes to the governor’s desk.

Rep. Steve Brunk, R-Wichita, said the bill allows a second chance at concealed carry for former offenders who are now “adults and good citizens” and “relinquished the indiscretions of their youthful past.”

Some of them had concealed-carry permits they had to turn in when the lifetime ban was imposed last year, he said.

Supporters characterized the bill as a cleanup of flaws in a 2014 gun law sponsored by then-Rep. Jim Howell, who is now a Sedgwick County commissioner.

Howell’s bill was designed to pre-empt local ordinances on carrying and storing firearms, but it accidentally overturned a previous provision against cities and counties regulating gun sales in their communities, officials said.

As a result, gun dealers “may have had some encumbrances placed on them by local units of government,” Brunk said.

Rep. John Carmichael questioned whether the bill would allow a gun dealer to “knock down a couple of buildings, put in a parking lot and put in a gun shop in the middle of a residential neighborhood.”

Brunk said he doesn’t think it would allow that, but it would prevent discrimination against gun businesses in neighborhoods where other home-based businesses are allowed.

On Tuesday, Arnold said he wanted the bill because it would ease the way for him to move his gun business from McPherson, where he grew up, to Wichita, where he lives.

Arnold said he’s been reluctant to make that move because of concerns that Wichita would try to use licensing and zoning to regulate him out of what would become a home-based business.

Arnold doesn’t actually have a gun shop, but he does have a federal firearms dealer license.

He uses it to facilitate transactions for online gun buyers. Federal law prohibits shipping guns directly to customers. Instead, they have to be shipped to a licensed dealer who has to run required background and identity checks before delivering the guns.

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

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