TOPEKA — The Senate majority leader and two dozen colleagues Thursday argued the U.S. Constitution’s provisions on the right to bear arms provided Kansans all the authority necessary to legally carry a concealed weapon in the state.
The Second Amendment should be relied upon by lawmakers to wash away obstacles to the legal carrying of a concealed firearm without a state license, said Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce, R-Hutchinson. He spoke for 25 co-sponsors of Senate Bill 45, which would create an avenue for license-free concealed carry of handguns statewide.
“There truly is not a reason why you need the government’s permission to protect you or defend your family,” Bruce told the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee.
In 2014, the Legislature and Gov. Sam Brownback decided Kansans could carry an unconcealed firearm without a permit. The Senate bill would extend that language to include concealed handguns.
Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, a gun rights supporter, and David Nichols, a member of the National Rifle Association, expressed apprehension with the undermining of safety training mandated by the state’s conceal-and-carry permit system.
“I don’t relish the idea of someone carrying a concealed handgun for self-defense that has as much potential of inflicting deadly force on an innocent bystander as the assailant does,” Nichols said.
John Commerford, a state liaison with the NRA, said the proposed reform should increase interest in firearms education and do nothing to compromise access to training programs in Kansas.
Since 2007, Kansas has issued permits to individuals seeking to carry concealed handguns. Permits cost $132. There are about 75,000 holders of these permits in the state, said Joe Neville, political director for the National Association for Gun Rights.
Patricia Stoneking, president of the Kansas State Rifle Association, said the state government should trust citizens to adhere to the law on handling of weapons unless they had provided reason not to be trustworthy.
“Every law-abiding citizen has a right and there’s no prohibitive law of any kind that you can ever pass that is going to prevent a criminal from doing something criminal,” Stoneking said.
Open carry and concealed carry is legal in Arizona, Alaska, Vermont and Wyoming. The Senate committee took no action Thursday on the bill.