On November 2, Kansas voter’s will be given the unique chance to simulate history as they take to polls to vote on one of the countries most enduring issues and one that was certainly on the minds of some great men in the years surrounding 1790. The Kansas State Rifle Association headed by Patricia Stoneking of Overland Park is supporting a ballot initiative that proposes amendments to the Kansas State Constitution that would establish a “state right” for residents to bear arms.
Stoneking, also the proprietor of the indoor shooting range The Bullet Hole in Overland Park, is unflinching in her resolve to see Kansas pass this measure and insists a state amendment echoing its federal equivalent is an absolute necessity. Stoneking told Fox news reporters she believes gun ownership is the obligation of every American citizen, and not necessarily for protection against criminals, but as a necessary deterrent against rogue governments. She explained that the U.S. founding fathers included the 2nd amendment in the U.S. Constitution partly as a “check” on the government—one that could prevent it from ever becoming tyrannical. As reported by Fox News, “We have to put limits on our government, and that’s what the [right to bear arms] does.”
On the other side of the table, gun control advocates like Paul Helmke call the proposed initiative “ridiculous”, “redundant” and “unnecessary.” Helmke is a representative from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and he says Stoneking already has a national constitutional right to bear arms that would supersede anything an individual state could do. To support these claims, Helmke points to DC’s Heller and Chicago’s McDonald decisions, two recent high profile court victories for gun advocates that reaffirmed the federal 2nd amendment must be applicable in the states.
Helmke says that Stoneking’s comment implicating the need to be able to take up arms against the government makes him nervous, stating “When someone thinks that they, on their own, can decide that somehow the government is tyrannical and that they can start a revolution, start a civil war, then we’re not following the process that our founding fathers set up.”