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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Martin Hawver: Is Gun Control on the Kansas Horizon?

By Martin Hawver


While K-12 finance, a budget, and taxes are all consuming oxygen in the Statehouse, gun legislation is locked and loaded and ready for a House-Senate shootout in which just one major policy change is apparently ready to be approved. But there is another piece of gun legislation which might move to center stage.
The apparently agreed-to issue is to prevent people who have been convicted of misdemeanors for domestic violence within the past five years from having guns, along with those who are under court order to stop stalking, harassing or threatening an “intimate partner, child or child of an intimate partner.”
Martin Hawver
Now, that may be as far as legislators are ready to go this year. No prohibition of those bump stocks which turn a semi-automatic rifle into a machine gun that can fire off multiple bullets with just one trigger pull, no new limits on carrying concealed weapons on college campuses.
And…so far, no action in either chamber on what could become the center point of gun safety, the so-called “red flag” law, which some other states have enacted after a series of mass shootings. That red flag business is interesting, and there are versions of the bill in both the House and Senate which haven’t gotten hearings yet.
Key to the red flag is that if friends or relatives or other close acquaintances notice a dramatic change in the behavior of a gun owner—maybe a tragedy has happened or there has been an emotional or other significant change in behavior—they can make a complaint to a judge and the judge can order that the person’s guns and ammunition can be seized.
It’s just a temporary deal, with the subject of the complaint getting the chance for a quick evaluation to determine whether he/she does present a danger to himself or others, and if there is no problem, the person gets the guns and ammo back. That’s something that can happen within a couple weeks.
It’s a “prove you aren’t dangerous” standard that proponents believe will prevent suicides or other dangerous use of weapons. The red flag is just a way to improve the chances that a tragedy can be prevented. But it’s not making any progress yet and might not this year.
It’s not quite as simple as Kansas-made gun silencers or bump stocks or those throwing stars that some are OK with people carrying around as long as they don’t threaten anyone with them.
Pre-emptive gun bills are a little tougher to sell because, well, they’re pre-emptive, messing with the constitutional right to bear arms. If that crazy guy next door wants his guns, it’s OK as long as he/she doesn’t hurt anyone…until they do.
With a red flag law, that Second Amendment right to have guns gets interrupted, and that’s a tough choice for responsible gun owners who aren’t a danger to anything except targets and maybe a rabbit or deer or two. A major change in mental capacity or emotional stress probably means more than if, after an icky divorce, an ex-spouse with that major change just acts out by buying a red convertible or maybe those shirts designed to be worn untucked.
Every time someone who even Second Amendment activists don’t think should have a gun shoots him/herself, or others, well, it just puts more anti-gun stories in the newspapers and on TV and threatens some wider gun restrictions.
See the problem here? It’s how to essentially mess around with a constitutional right that the writers of the Constitution didn’t think of more than 200 years ago. If they’d thought of adding the word “safe” or “competent” or something similar, well, things would be a lot different.
But they didn’t, and things aren’t.
So, let’s watch this one.
Syndicated by Hawver News Company LLC of Topeka; Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver's Capitol Report—to learn more about this nonpartisan statewide political news service, visit the website at www.hawvernews.com

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