Bravo to the Kansas City Council for its unanimous vote banning open carry of firearms in city limits.
The prohibition may not survive for more than a few weeks if the Missouri General Assembly manages to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill that broadens gun rights and tramples local control. But it is an effective statement and a pre-emptive show of defiance.
The vote announces that Kansas City values public safety and the right of citizens to go about their business without being confronted by pistol-packing persons in public places. (How’s that for a show of alliteration?) State legislators can erase that statement if they wish, but not without engendering quite a bit of resentment.
Just as state lawmakers resent the federal government placing demands on the state, local officials and citizens don’t take kindly to the state legislature wiping out an ordinance that a lot of people really like. If other cities around Missouri want to permit open carry, fine. Just leave it a local issue.
My colleague Mary Sanchez provides a nice explanation as to why it’s not a great thing in an urban area to have people openly carrying firearms. For one thing, it puts the police in difficult situations:
“What if someone decides to hang around Loose Park toting a firearm? Police are dispatched, but then what? Gingerly approach the person and politely ask if they have a proper permit? Or wait for the person to begin firing? You never know — it might be a good guy with a gun.”
And this: “There are lots of people in this city who are known by police because of affiliations with drugs and other crimes. But many of these people don’t have a felony conviction that would ban them from gun ownership. By making it easier for anyone to openly carry a weapon, politicians are encouraging these sorts too.”
The vetoed bill that the General Assembly hopes to override also lowers the age requirement to obtain a concealed carry permit from 21 to 19. I’ve heard a lot of concern about that voiced locally.
Go ahead, Missouri legislature, stomp on local control if you must and if you can. But understand that people are talking about this, and a lot of them are getting sick and tired of seeing their vision of a civilized and safe society battered for the sake of political gain and a much-distorted notion of “freedom.”