Kansas gun law deserves a challenge

07/09/2014 8:08 PM

07/10/2014 12:10 AM

Here is the company legislators have placed Kansans with: slaveholders and segregationists.

And militia wackos patrolling woods with firearms, practicing for when they’ll combat the “tyranny” of the federal government. Feeling safe now? You shouldn’t. A Kansas law could criminalize the work of federal agents and allow felons to avoid background checks when buying guns.

Wednesday, the state was sued by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence for this 2013 law that seeks to shield Kansas from federal gun laws it doesn’t like. Gov. Sam Brownback vows to defend this law. If well-armed drug cartels had a PAC, they would write Brownback a check.

The term “nullification” is key to understanding this latest example of ridiculous lawmaking.

The Kansas law says guns and ammunition manufactured and owned in the state are exempt from federal firearms laws. It’s the old state’s sovereignty idea. The same argument the antebellum South tried to keep their slaves. It arose again when states fought the desegregation of public schools.

Now nullification has become part of the lingo with laws like the Kansas one that the Brady Center is challenging as unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court has already declared that the federal government has the right to place reasonable regulations on the ownership of firearms.

Montana had a similar law that was recently struck down by an appellate court. Missouri legislators tried, too. But Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the bill that sought to block federal gun laws.

Brownback’s administration questioned whether the Brady suit was a political stunt, coming so close to the August primary. The reality check to that assertion is that the legislature’s passing of the bill was purely political pandering. The politicians who supported this law sought to court gun owners susceptible to slogans about a need to defend the Second Amendment. It’s doubtful those same constituents wanted their representatives to tie the hands of federal drug agents and FBI.

A Brownback administration statement pressed on, saying the law “was intended by the Legislature to safeguard Kansans’ rights under the Second and Tenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.” Again, even if that was the goal, it emphasizes shallow thinking. Legislators were warned of the bill’s potential ill consequences, repeatedly.

Now taxpayers will pay the legal costs to defend the hardheadedness.

To reach Mary Sanchez, call 816-234-4752 or email msanchez@kcstar.com. Twitter: @msanchezcolumn.

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