Society

Cost of Security Too High for Many Kansas Towns Who Want Gun-Free Public Buildings

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A report by the Associated Press discovered that in 2013 Kansas was 3rd in the nation when it comes to racking up federal gun prosecutions for owning, possessing illegal firearms. Also in 2013, Kansas received a record number of applications for concealed-carry permits—which many believe is motivated by the fear of more restrictive federal laws.

Whereas the national conversation may be focused on restricting who can have guns and where they can have them, Kansas has gone in the opposite direction. A policy passed last year by Kansas’s state legislature allowing individuals legally carrying concealed weapons to do so in public buildings such as courthouses, museums, and community halls. If a local government wants to ban individuals from carrying weapons on public property, they have to provide—and pay for from local budgets—metal detectors and security to, according to The New York Times, “[ensure] the safety of those they have disarmed.”

The key issue is not-so-much the guns themselves, but that the law applies only to those who have paid $150 and met a series of requirements to be issued a permit to carry a weapon concealed. Along with a clean criminal record, background check (and, given President Obama’s recent executive actions, mental-health background check), Kansans also must complete a certified weapons training course that runs at least 8 hours.

What offends guns-rights activists is that these citizens, who’ve arguably had to jump through a number of legal hoops in order to exercise what they see as a fundamental right, are pre-supposed to be untrustworthy in a public space with their weapons. Also, the weapon makes that person feel safe. Ultimately, this is a debate about which sort of environment “feels” safer: a public building with metal detectors and armed security or an open door where anyone could possibly be armed.