Last Friday, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill into law that prohibits any state employee, municipality or school district from using taxpayer dollars to lobby in support of or against gun control.
House Bill 2162, known colloquially in the state Legislature as the ‘NRA bill’ because of the gun lobby’s backing of the legislation, will take effect on July 1, 2013, and is seen by gun rights advocates as a way to further secure the Second Amendment rights of responsible gun owners in the Sunflower State.
Upon signing the bill, the governor’s spokeswoman, Sherriene Jones-Sontag, released this statement, “Governor Brownback signed the bill because Kansans do not support spending taxpayer dollars on legislation limiting gun rights; Kansas is a strong pro-Second Amendment state.”
In addition to banning the use of taxpayer dollars to hire lobbyists for gun control, local governments cannot create “publicity or propaganda” materials, such as “any kit, pamphlet, booklet, publication, electronic communication, radio, television or video presentation” related to gun control.
Critics of the bill argue that the bill comes dangerously close to violating the First Amendment rights of cities and towns that want to see changes in state or federal gun laws. Mayor Mike Dever of Lawrence, Kansas, told the Associated Press that he is frustrated with the state’s concealed carry law and now worries about to what extent he can challenge the law.
“It kind of creates an interesting dilemma for local government agencies, when they feel strongly about something and have to be careful,” Dever said.
Yet, supporters of the law dismiss these complaints, saying that any individual can still spend all the money he/she wants on promoting gun control provided it’s his/her own money and not public funds.
“This is not a freedom of speech issue,” State Sen. Jeff King, an Independence Republican, told the AP. “This is an issue of using taxpayer dollars.”
Since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary last December lawmakers have passed a number of pro-gun rights bill, including the “Second Amendment Protection Act,” which invokes states rights under the 9th and 10th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution to argue that the federal government does not have the authority to regulate intrastate commerce.
Under the language of the “Second Amendment Protection Act,” any federal agent that attempts to enforce a federal gun law or confiscate firearms manufactured, sold or kept within the state’s borders would face felony charges.
By all accounts, HB 2162 is another victory for Kansas gun owners.
“It goes along with a lot of good legislation that’s happening on Second Amendment rights,” House Speaker Ray Merrick, a Stilwell Republican told the AP.