Municipal and county employees should have spent the waning days of June peeling “No Guns Allowed” signs off the doors of city halls and county buildings.
By DANEDRI HERBERT
Special to The Star
The signs offer about as much protection as SPF 1 sunscreen at the equator.
Instead of just removing the signs and continuing on with the important business at hand such as drafting next year’s budget or maintaining streets, bureaucratic staffers will spend the next six months researching how they can best sidestep a new Kansas state law that went into effect July 1. The law requires public buildings in Kansas, including city halls, to allow licensed persons to carry concealed weapons inside.
Municipalities had a few choices to comply with the law — take down those silly white signs with a red circle X-ing out a gun, request a six-month extension to research adding security measures to public buildings or install metal detectors to ensure that no one carries a concealed weapon into the building. Most cities in Johnson County, including Gardner, Mission, Overland Park and Prairie Village, requested a six-month exemption.
They’re doing nothing more than delaying the inevitable. What city has the financial resources to purchase and staff an airport-style security system at all public buildings? I’m guessing none.
Officials say the six-month exemption will allow time to research the costs of implementing the now-required upgraded security measures, or the time to draft a detailed security plan and request a four-year exemption. It’s all so much ado about so, so little with arguments on both sides of the issue as worn as the limestone steps of the decades-old Johnson County Courthouse.
Those who oppose the new law think removing the “No Guns Allowed” sticker from the front door will turn city halls into the modern-day equivalent of a showdown at the OK Corral. It’s laughable.
Physical altercations between disagreeing adults are extremely rare as long as alcohol isn’t involved, and there shouldn’t be any alcohol at city hall. It shows a surprising lack of trust in other humans to assume that a disagreement about a property tax bill or a codes violation is going to result in shooting violence because one of the parties is a licensed gun carrier.
It’s also laughable because those signs don’t actually provide any security. I haven’t parsed through every law on the books in Kansas, but I am confident that shooting someone over say, a utility billing dispute, is illegal.
And if a sign is all it takes to ensure that doesn’t occur, why aren’t there signs on the doors of city hall that really spell it out? If a sign telling people it’s not OK to carry a gun into a building is decent security, then a sign telling people it’s illegal to shoot city staff over disputes ought to work just as well. As an added bonus, the Kansas Legislature has yet to address how such signage should look and where it must be posted.
Such is the case with those ridiculous gun signs, which by the way, bureaucrats will be removing and replacing even with the six-month exemption. As part of the exemption process, cities must remove their old “No Guns” signs and replace them with new ones.
The new signage explains that the public building in question has requested an exemption or has adequate security measure in place “pursuant to 2013 Senate Sub. For House Bill 2052.” If that doesn’t make people feel safer I don’t know what would.
I’m joking, of course, because the only people who are going to stop to read that sign, let alone abide by its demands, are those who follow the laws. Those that don’t — like someone intent on shooting up a place — aren’t going to stop to read the sign.
While there is one, decent arguments against the new law itself — that the state government shouldn’t impose on local governments — those local governments should have been listening to the will of the people in the first place. If the last state elections are any indication, the people of Kansas overwhelmingly support the right of law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons. And the people should be allowed to set the rules in the buildings they own.
In Roeland Park, common sense prevails started July 1. The signs are coming down.
Wise governing bodies of Johnson County should follow that city’s example and stop wasting time and resources on a moot point.
Freelance columnist Danedri Herbert writes in this space once a month.