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.
Gov. Sam Brownback announced Wednesday that he signed a bill late Tuesday preventing local officials from restricting the sale of firearms and ammunition or regulating how guns are transported and stored.
“Kansans have long believed the right to bear arms is a constitutional right,” the governor said in a statement.
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.
“It means that all of the laws are going to be uniform statewide,” said Patricia Stoneking, president of the Kansas State Rifle Association, adding that local regulations create confusion and hinder only law-abiding gun owners because criminals ignore the rules.
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 allegedly shot to death two people behind a Jewish community center in Overland Park and another person at a retirement community.
“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 told local officials in the past that some restrictions are allowed.
The Unified Government of Wyandotte County/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.
“The Legislature has shown great disrespect for local control and local communities,” said Mike Taylor, Wyandotte County’s lobbyist.
In Missouri, Republicans are once again pushing legislation designed to nullify federal gun laws, but it does not criminalize enforcement by federal agents. Included in the bill is a provision that would allow holders of concealed gun permits to carry firearms openly, even in municipalities with ordinances banning open carry.
Both the National Rifle Association and the San Francisco-based Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence say 43 states, including Kansas, already limit the ability of cities and counties to regulate firearms, though they vary widely.