Mayor Sly James pushes for an open carry ban in Kansas City

07/23/2014 1:20 PM

07/23/2014 7:47 PM

At Mayor Sly James’ urging, the Kansas City Council’s public safety committee on Wednesday endorsed a measure that would ban people from openly carrying firearms in the city limits.

“Our community is not a battleground,” James told the committee.

He said aggressive open carrying of weapons can be intimidating for customers and bad for business, and he pointed out that the tourist town of Lake Ozark has also voted for such a ban, even by those with a concealed carry permit.

Councilman Scott Taylor applauded James’ proposal and said, “We’re proud to live in the Midwest, but I’m not sure we want to be the Wild West.”

James replied that the Wild West actually had sensible gun regulations, as sheriffs required people to turn in their guns when they came into town. He said guns have no place in shopping malls, churches, restaurants and many other places where the public gathers.

The full council will consider the measure on July 31. But its long-term prospects are uncertain.

The Missouri General Assembly passed a bill that would void any local ordinance prohibiting open carry for anyone with a valid concealed carry permit. Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the bill, but the General Assembly is likely to try to override that veto in September.

James said that while the veto remains in place, state law currently gives cities the latitude to regulate open carry of firearms, so Kansas City needs to do that.

“We’re saying this does not make sense in the middle of Kansas City, Mo.,” he said. “If you want to do this out in a rural area, that’s cool. How much would you shop at the Plaza if you walk down there and every third person had a rifle on their back?”

The measure tentatively approved Wednesday also was drafted to make city law conform to state law with regard to intoxicated people. Currently, city law prohibits intoxicated people from carrying weapons. But the General Assembly changed state law to allow intoxicated people to carry weapons, as long as they don’t handle the weapon negligently or discharge it. Now the city must change that portion of its law to mirror state law.

To reach Lynn Horsley, call 816-226-2058 or send email to lhorsley@kcstar.com.

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