By L&T Managing Editor Larry Phillips
Despite a new state law allowing handguns in all public buildings by concealed carry permit holders starting July 1, Liberal and Seward County commissioners are dragging their feet in conforming with the law.
Each commission has officially requested the Kansas Attorney General exempt them from the law for six months while they come up with a plan to allow concealed carry or spend millions putting up metal detectors and personnel to man the detector sites.
I believe the county will announce it will allow concealed carry by Jan. 1, but one disturbing aspect of the procedure is how city commissioners are dealing with the law. During an interview with Liberal Mayor Dave Harrison about 10 days ago, Harrison said he hopes that six months is long enough for the law to be changed.
“I think it’s something unnecessary, and I also think that the measures that are in place are about as good as they can get,” Harrison said. “They’ve served well for years and years. Unfortunately, a few tragedies sparked this kind of fear more than anything else, and I think it’s probably an overreaction to that fear.”
In discussions with Rep. Reid Petty, he assured me there is absolutely no way this law is going to go away – especially in six months.
The Legislators won’t even be in session until after the six-month deadline expires Jan. 1, 2014.
Also troublesome is the ordinance passed Tuesday evening by the city. One paragraph reads:
“Whereas, the city administration has advised the commission that not only would allowing persons with concealed carry permits to bring firearms into city buildings likely have no positive effect on safety, but could, in fact, decrease the safety and security of the staff, general public and other visitors to the city buildings.”
That my friends, is an opinion of an anti-concealed carry bureaucrat if I ever heard one.
There is no basis in fact to that statement. When I asked the commission who wrote that, their heads started swinging around like bobble-head dolls looking at each other. I asked that it be removed from the ordinance because it was only an opinion, and opinion should not be in a legally binding ordinance – maybe in some resolution or such, but not an ordinance, which is a statute.
Ironically, it was pointed out that the following paragraph – the next “Whereas,” explained why they want to ask for an exemption. I had no problem with that. It was necessary.
When all of them started looking for the paragraph in the ordinance, it reminded me of Nancy Pelosi saying, “We have to pass the bill so we can find out what’s in it.” None acted like they had even read the ordinance, yet they were ready to vote on it.
Someone asked the city’s attorney, Shirla McQueen, who wrote the ordinance, and she said it was a template used by cities and counties and school boards, etc. all over the state.
My question, “Who wrote the template?”
Was it the Kansas League of Municipalities telling cities how to skirt this law for as long as possible?
When commissioner Joe Denoyer said maybe they should talk about it, Harrison asked for a motion to approve, vice mayor Janet Willimon made the motion and commissioner Dean Aragon seconded the motion, and they voted.
It was a 5-0 slam dunk.
Rumor on the street already is the city plans on raising the mill levy on property owners so they can spend $3 million to install metal detectors and hire personnel to man the detectors in order to keep guns out of city buildings. How foolish, since the alternative is abiding by the law, which doesn’t cost taxpayers one thin dime.
Let’s look at this “opinion” and correct its assumptions.
Here are some concealed carry facts, according to http://hawaiiccw.com/gun-myths (there are literally hundreds of sites arguing gun myths).
Fact: Thirty-nine states, comprising the majority of the American population, are “right-to-carry” states. Statistics show that in these states the crime rate fell (or did not rise) after the right-to-carry law became active (as of July, 2006). Nine states restrict the right to carry and two deny it outright.
Fact: Crime rates involving gun owners with carry permits have consistently been about 0.02 percent of all carry permit holders since Florida’s right-to-carry law started in 1988.
Fact: After passing their concealed carry law, Florida’s homicide rate fell from 36 percent above the national average to 4 percent below, and remains below the national average.
Fact: In Texas, murder rates fell 50 percent faster than the national average in the year after their concealed carry law passed. Rape rates fell 93 percent faster in the first year after enactment, and 500 percent faster in the second. Assaults fell 250 percent faster in the second year.
Fact: Crime is significantly higher in states without right-to-carry laws.
Fact: States that disallow concealed carry have violent crime rates 11 percent higher than national averages.
Fact: Deaths and injuries from mass public shootings fall dramatically after right-to-carry concealed handgun laws are enacted. Between 1977 and 1995, the average death rate from mass shootings plummeted by up to 91 percent after such laws went into effect, and injuries dropped by over 80 percent.
I would refer doubters to the book “More Guns, Less Crime” by John R. Lott Jr.
I can deal with opinions outside of ordinances, but we don’t elect commissioners for their opinions. It’s the voters’ opinions that count, and it’s in the commissioners best political interests to listen to voters. They are supposed to represent us, and I hope all concerned voters let them know what they think about the state’s concealed carry law.
If any of the commissioners don’t like the law, let them file to run against Rep. Petty or Sen. Garrett Love and try to get it changed.
But for now, they are charged with obeying the state’s laws. And compliance is free to the taxpayers.