“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.