Kansas will nullify local regulation of guns

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 23, 2014 at 4:09 pm •  Published: April 23, 2014

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas will strip cities and counties of their power to regulate guns and nullify local gun regulations in July, ensuring it will be legal across the state to openly carry firearms and adding to a string of victories in recent years by gun-rights advocates.

Gov. Sam Brownback announced Wednesday that he signed a bill late the previous day preventing local officials from restricting the sale of firearms and ammunition or regulating how guns are transported and stored. The National Rifle Association has described the legislation as a model for states seeking to strip local officials of gun-regulating powers.

"Kansans have long believed the right to bear arms is a constitutional right," the governor said in a statement.

Jonathan Lowy of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence said it was offensive for Brownback to sign the measure less than two weeks after a man with Ku Klux Klan ties fatally shot two people behind a Jewish community center in Overland Park and another person at a retirement community. Lowy said the Washington-based center will consider challenging the new Kansas law.

"It is outrageous. It's contrary to public safety, and it's undemocratic," Lowy said. "This is certainly one of the more extreme pre-emption laws that I've seen."

Kansas law doesn't expressly forbid the open carrying of firearms, and the attorney general's office has in the past told local officials some restrictions are allowed. The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., has prohibited the practice, but the new law sweeps any such ban away, except to allow cities and counties to prevent openly carried weapons inside public buildings.

Critics of the new law also said local officials have had some say in regulating guns since Kansas became a state in 1861. Lowy said local officials will no longer be able to respond to tragedies like the Overland Park shootings with reasonable gun policies.

Supporters of the measure contend that a patchwork of local regulations has infringed upon gun-ownership rights guaranteed by the state and U.S. constitutions. Patricia Stoneking, president of the Kansas State Rifle Association, said local regulations create confusion and hinder only law-abiding gun owners, because criminals ignore them.

Brownback has consistently supported gun rights, and the GOP-dominated Legislature had solid gun-rights majorities even before the Republican governor took office in January 2011.

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