Kansas still feeling out recent constitutional carry law

It’s been more than a month since Kansas implemented a law allowing for the permitless concealed carry of firearms, and the effects are still largely unobservable.    

“The way the new law reads, you can carry a concealed weapon in there as long as you meet state and federal standards,” said Capt. Andy Dean, supervisor of the Capitol Police division of the Kansas Highway Patrol, in an interview with newspaper Lawrence Journal-World.

Dean, whose agency manages security at the Statehouse and other government office buildings in Topeka, told the paper the fact that people can carry concealed guns on Capitol grounds is good cause for concern and a security risk, especially if an active shooter scenario were to occur.

“That’s the unfortunate side of it,” Dean said. “As law enforcement, we’re going to have to identify the threat. That’s difficult if you have multiple people who are armed. It could be a potential issue you could run into.”

State law and the U.S. Constitution trump those concerns, which are legitimate, Rep. Steve Brunk, R-Wichita, chair of the House Federal and State Affairs Committee, told the newspaper.

“Criminal citizens, they don’t follow any restrictions, so the only people that we put restrictions on are the law-abiding citizens that could be a deterrent to the crime,” he said.

Just two weeks after the the law became effective, a permitless carrier thwarted a robbery occurring at a sports goods store.

The story has floated around gun rights blogs and was touted by the National Rifle Association as an example of a citizens exercising his Second Amendment right.

Purists have argued citizens shouldn’t need state laws to uphold that right which has already been bestowed on them by the Constitution.   

Though Senate Bill 45 passed earlier this year with more than a majority of votes in both the state House and Senate, it wasn’t passed in either chamber unanimously.

The bill was introduced in the Senate in January with 26 co-sponsors and passed by an overwhelming 31-7 vote before the House approved it in March by a 85-39 bipartisan vote.

“Responsible gun ownership, for protection and sport, is a right inherent in our Constitution,” Republican Gov. Sam Brownback said at the signing in April. “It is a right that Kansans hold dear and have repeatedly and overwhelmingly reaffirmed a commitment to protecting.”