Bipartisan Lawmakers Propose Permitless Gun Bill

By John Celock

A bipartisan group of Kansas state senators have proposed legislationto guarantee concealed carry of guns.

The bill, introduced Wednesday, would allow for Kansas residents to lawfully conceal carry guns if they are “law abiding.” Passage would make Kansas the sixth state in the country to adopt such a constitutional amendment. Twenty-six senators have signed on as sponsors of the bill.

“In last few legislative sessions, member of the Kansas Legislature have come together in a bi-partisan manner to craft legislation that protects Kansans’ 2nd Amendment rights,” state Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce (R-Nickerson), the bill’s chief sponsor, said in a statement. “SB 45 helps ensure that law abiding Kansans are afforded every possibility to defend themselves and their loved ones from those who disregard our system of laws. I look forward to working with my colleagues as this historic piece of legislation works its way through the public process.”

Bruce was joined by 24 fellow Republicans in pushing the bill. State Sen. Laura Kelly (D-Topeka) is the sole Democrat to join the legislation.

Under the terms of the legislation Kansas residents would not need a permit to carry a gun but would be able to obtain a permit in order to allow for interstate reciprocity or to speed up a background check to purchase a gun. Currently Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Vermont and Wyoming have similar laws on the books.

The legislation has support from the Kansas State Rifle Association. KRSA President Patricia Stoneking told The Celock Report that she has not seen any problem in other states that have the law in place.

“We strongly support the bill. We urge every senator to vote yes on this bill. It’s a constitutional right, protected by the Second Amendment,” Stoneking said. “We shouldn’t get a permit and ask the government for a constitutional right. We don’t have to apply for a permit for freedom of speech or freedom of religion.”

Republicans backers of the bill in the state House of Representatives said the law was needed in order to protect Kansans.

“Kansans should be allowed to exercise their constitutional rights without being fingerprinted and registered with the government,” state Rep. Travis Couture-Lovelady (R-Palco) told The Celock Report. “Criminals don’t ask permission and law abiding citizens who are seeking to protect themselves and their families shouldn’t have to either. This is a great step forward for Kansas.”

While the bill has bipartisan support in the state Senate, it might have Republican opposition in the state House. Rep. Barbara Bollier (R-Mission Hills) told The Celock Report that she needs to review the proposal but questioned if it is needed.

Bollier, a moderate Republican and retired physician, is a founding members of American State Legislators Coalition for the Prevention of Gun Violence and attended the group’s inaugural meeting in Washington last month. In December, she noted that she wants to start a “dialogue” on gun violence in the state and noted that she wants to have Kansas designate gun violence as a public health issue.

My only comment is that on my end I am trying to work for less gun violence. I would have to look to see if this would anyway hurt that effort,” Bollier told The Celock Report. “My guess is that it would. It would eliminate all the requirements to conceal carry. I think those are appropriate good measures in place. I don’t know what the problem is. Maybe they just want less government.”

Bollier said as part of her research she wants to know if in the states that have adopted the measure if there has been a rise in gun violence. In the past, Bollier has stressed that she grew up hunting and still enjoys to hunt.

“I don’t see myself being in favor of that bill unless there is a major problem,” she said. “But that doesn’t seem to be the way to solve the problem, it would only add to gun violence.”

Wyoming state Rep. Dan Zwonitzer (R-Cheyenne) told The Celock Report that his state did not see a rise in gun violence since adopting the amendment. He noted there have been some accidental discharges but no injuries occurred.

Zwonitzer said state demographics play a role with the amendment.

“I think a lot depends on the demographics of the state, Wyoming is predominately rural, without large urban centers, we don’t have gang activity, and most people know how to use a gun,” he said.

State Rep. Brett Hildabrand (R-Shawnee) said that he believes the bill could reduce crime in the state. Hildabrand was a sponsor of the state’s Second Amendment Protection Act, which seeks to nullify federal gun laws on guns made in Kansas that do not leave the state.

“I support it. I have a problem with the government assuming citizens are guilty and must prove their innocence. Criminals obviously do not abide by that and carry weapons anyway,” Hildabrand told The Celock Report. “If we can deter even some crime by making criminals question if their intended victims are armed, it is a success. The Second Amendment does not have an asterisk stating ‘applies only to licensed citizens.’”