Any day now, the Kansas House is likely to approve a bill that would allow citizens to carry concealed guns without applying for a permit or taking the eight-hour training course that is currently required.
This is not a right the citizens of Kansas requested. Indications are most state residents are deeply skeptical if not downright opposed to the notion of people walking around with a deadly weapon without a crash course in the fundamentals of care and caution.
A recent poll by Survey USA on behalf of two gun safety groups, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, found that almost 80 percent of Kansans support current laws requiring permits and training.
But members of the Kansas Legislature, like members of other state legislatures, have broadened their constituencies far beyond the limits of their districts. They feel obliged to honor the wishes of certain special interests. And gun groups are high on the list.
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Right on cue, in fact, a member of the Missouri legislature has introduced a bill to abandon permits and training in the Show Me State also.
In Kansas, the House Federal and State Affairs Committee approved a bill this week allowing anyone 21 or older who is not barred by federal or state law from carrying a concealed weapon to obtain and carry a gun without a permit or training.
Stephanie Clayton, a Republican from Overland Park, opposed moving the bill along.
“I have had more than 1,500 email communications about this bill,” she wrote in an email report to her constituents. “Those inside my district are overwhelmingly opposed to this bill. Most outside my district are as well.”
Clayton continued, “In fact, the ‘gun rights lobby’ is torn internally about the bill. Many see how it could cause many more problems than others claim it solves.”
When the Senate passed the controversial bill, Senate President Susan Wagle noted she had heard from many concerned citizens who preferred to keep the current requirements.
“When in doubt, I believe that if we err, we ought to do so on the side of freedom and the continued protection of our most basic constitutional rights,” she said.
That is stretching the elastic so far that it loses all relevance. Kansans weren’t shouting about their freedom being impinged upon or their constitutional rights being violated because they had to apply for a gun permit and take eight hours of training. Indications are most concealed carry permit holders think those requirements should continue.
The right of citizens to remain alive and safe is pretty basic. A responsible legislature would defend that right by making sure gun owners have secured a permit and taken a short course in how to store, transport and employ their weapons. But not the Kansas Legislature. Too many of its members would sacrifice a basic expectation of safety for a phony concept of freedom.