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“Some Kansas cities and the Libertarian Party are locked in a dispute, as you may know, over whether cities can legally prohibit people from openly carrying loaded weapons in public places,” Dave Helling [above] writes in the The Kansas City Star-Telegram. “The party says an open-carry ban would violate both the U.S. and Kansas constitutions and state law. They may be right on the law, but the constitutional picture is cloudier.” Right on the law but wrong on the Constitution? How’s that work? “Let’s see why.” Right behind you Dave . . .

Kansas has guaranteed an individual the right to possess weapons since its founding more than 150 years ago. The state’s original constitution included this: “The people have the right to bear arms for their peace and security.”

I’m guessing that’s the law bit. Seems as straightforward as an exit sign to me. As in “exit here if you want to create a law infringing on the people’s right to bear arms for their peace and security.” Times two.

Curiously, however, late 19th century Kansans interpreted that language rather loosely. Dodge City, Wichita, and Abilene openly restricted firearms possession, and in 1905 the Kansas Supreme Court upheld a Salina gun control law by finding no individual right to carry a weapon.

“It was the safety and security of society that was being considered when this provision was put into our constitution,” the court ruled.

Was that the most sarcastic “curiously” in the history of editorial writing ever? You know where this is going . . .

Winds blow and laws change, of course. In 2010, Kansas voters amended their constitution to more firmly create an individual right to bear arms, and the same year the U.S. Supreme Court said the U.S. Constitution contains a similar guarantee.

Quick point: laws change but rights do not. Not if you believe that they are “natural” or “God given” as the founding fathers of this country and the great state of Kansas did. As the vast majority of Americans in general and Sunflower State resident in particular do.

But conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, made a crucial point: “No fundamental right — not even the First Amendment — is absolute,” he wrote.

Exactly. I can’t knowingly lie about you in the newspaper, despite the guarantee of a free press, or shout “fire” in a crowded theater even though I enjoy free speech.

In fact, virtually every freedom protected in the Constitution — religion, assembly, trial by jury, self-incrimination, search and seizure — involves some restrictions.

The same logic applies to gun rights. There is an individual right to own and carry a weapon, but it isn’t absolute.

Absolutely true! You can’t use it illegally. And . . . that’s about it. Or should be.

The real debate is over the Kansas gun law, not the two constitutions. And all sides agree Kansas law allows cities and counties to regulate the “manner” in which loaded guns are openly carried, even if they can’t be completely banned.

So here’s an idea: Cities worried about open weapons should require loaded gun-carriers to use holsters the public can clearly see. I’m thinking holsters dyed in blaze orange or fluorescent yellow.

Brightly-colored holsters would allow the public to immediately know, at a safe distance, who’s carrying a loaded weapon. And gun rights advocates couldn’t object, because their weapons aren’t meant to be concealed. The color of the holster wouldn’t affect the weapon’s operation, and Kansas law already requires deer hunters to wear orange. For safety.

And while we’re at it, let’s get the Jews to wear a yellow badge on their clothing to make sure that everyone knows who they are.

Helling’s editorial is a perfect example of why gun rights advocates should always listen for the word “but” whenever someone in the media (cough Obama cough) professes their support the Second Amendment.

Just to be clear: Americans have a Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. No ifs, ands or buts about it.


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  1. Well being that concealed holsters are usually concealed UNDERNEATH your clothing I don’t think this plan is going to work. Oh, and it’s stupid plan by a leftist weasel.

  2. If they can require brightly colored holsters, then maybe they should also put brightly-colored labels on child molesters, so everyone can tell at a distance that they need to keep their children away. Maybe we should also paint a different bright color on rapists. How about thieves? Politicians? They’re pretty dangerous! I like this game. We can paint a color on everyone, not just CCW permit holders.

  3. FYI, the Kansas City Star is a newspaper for the Metro Kansas City Mo/Kan area; the Star-Telegram is a network of print, magazine and electronic media serving mainly small towns. Unless the Star or other mainstream outlets pick this up, It’ll probably be seen more via TTAG than Star Telegram readers.

  4. I think so-called journalists or reporters for the mass media should be required to wear blaze yellow dunce caps so the public knows with whom it is dealing. Thankfully, there is the Internet which is daily taking away the power, influence, and respect the public once granted upon the mass and the local smaller media firms.

  5. The 19th century “cow town” prohibitions on firearms was intended for visitors during cattle drives. The locals carried concealed.

  6. “And while we’re at it, let’s get the Jews to wear a yellow badge on their clothing to make sure that everyone knows who they are.”

    That is really getting old. Give it a rest.

    I am a Jew, live in Kansas. There are so many other comments to be made, that is totally inappropriate.

  7. Curiously, there were other curiously interesting interpretations of constitutional law in the late 19th century. One that comes to mind is the Dred Scott decision. Good thing “winds blow and laws change”, Mr. Helling. Right?

  8. Speaking of laws I am reminded of certain strictures of Sharia Law that demand that Kaffirs dress in ridiculous clothing that limited their ability to defend themselves

  9. “The first step towards not being viewed as a victim is to stop whining about how you are a being victimized”

    ~Sung Hung Hi

  10. Except that modern American culture does not view us (gun owners) as victims. We are seen as the aggressors; immoral cancer that should be erradicated and never tolerated.

    • Which we shouldn’t put up with. Yes, I know, people want to cry about hurting feelings and such, but really – we have almost half the homes in the US and about 1/3 of the population owning guns. We drastically outnumber the police and military by more than 10 times. Why should we be cowering in fear when we have the power to take what is rightfully ours?

      I’m not saying to do anything violent, just posing a question – we have the ability to say “Yea, we’re done with this bullshit” and put and end to it….but we don’t, we just continue to bend over and take it in the ass. Why?

  11. Should make the holsters pink, That way the money paid for them will go to save the ta-tas. Might as well get something good out of a stupid law if that happens.

  12. “You can’t use it illegally”- I think get what you want to say, but this is not what you mean. Legality is changed with the stroke of a legislative pen. i think the phrase you mean is “You can’t use it to harm, or threaten harm to others without comparable provocation”

  13. The only valid restriction on any right is “You can’t use it to cause harm to someone against their will”. You have the right to possess whatever weapon you want, but you don’t have the right to murder people with it. It’s pretty simple, but unfortunately these people aren’t capable of understanding it.

    Hell, we could get rid of 99.99% of our laws and replace them with one law – “You cannot harm another person against their will”. I say against their will because there are cases where people may want someone to harm them (say you’re badly injured and want a friend to shoot you and put you out of your misery). It makes court cases very cut and dry – did Joe harm Sue? Was it against Sue’s will? If both answers are yes, then he’s guilty. If the act was intentional he gets a harsh sentence and if it was an accident he gets a moderate sentence.

    But rational thinking like that is just too hard for modern society to do.

  14. If they could guarantee me no restrictions on where and when I carried, and protected me from discrimination based on that carrying, I might agree to that.

    …which they can’t, btw.

  15. Really when you think about it critically, having a colored holster for aN open carry makes sense. Your not concealed, it’s sopped to be mown and what not. I’m all for every one should be allowed carry in some way. But sometimes you have to bite the bullet on something that doesn’t hinder your right in anyway.


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