Opinion

Dave Helling: In state Capitols, it’s always high noon

Kansas legislator Willie Dove left a loaded weapon in a Capitol hearing room. Wyatt Earp would not be happy.
Kansas legislator Willie Dove left a loaded weapon in a Capitol hearing room. Wyatt Earp would not be happy. AP

If you were a gunslinger back in the day, partner, you checked your six-shooter at the door.

That’s right. In Wichita, Dodge City, and a whole bunch of towns in the 1800s, the authorities corralled your weaponry at the city limits. You wanna spit some lead? Find somewhere else.

Times have changed, buster. Now anyone can strap a pistol to his or her ankle and waltz on in to the state Capitol building, just as pretty as you please.

Which is just what Kansas Rep. Willie Dove did this week in Topeka.

Turns out Shotgun Willie legally packs heat in the Capitol most of the time. Last Tuesday, though, he messed up. He left a loaded firearm — unattended — in a House hearing room.

Dagnabbit.

A secretary scooped up the piece and handed it to the sheriff — er, Capitol police. They locked it away until Dove could retrieve it the next day.

“I’m going to get me a shoulder holster,” the lawmaker later told a reporter.

We shouldn’t be too hard on Dove. Why, just a few weeks ago, Missouri Rep. Nick Marshall of Parkville was so angry about new weapons restrictions in the Missouri Capitol building, he offered a shootin’ iron to anyone who asked.

Maybe he was remembering that time a few years ago when an assistant to the Missouri House speaker left a loaded 9 mm gun in a Capitol restroom.

It’s hard to know what to make of all this. Are legislators and staff members really that worried about the public, or their colleagues, blazing away? Hardly seems neighborly.

Could be they’re making a point about the Second Amendment. We get it: Some lawmakers won’t be happy until every American carries a gun.

But try to keep you weapons secure, fellers. Or else we’re moving the capital to Dodge.

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