(Syndicated to Kansas newspapers July 22, 2013)
We have a few months before the single biggest trickle-down law in recent memory hits Kansans.
You know trickle-down. It’s when the Legislature passes and the governor signs into law a bill that will have negligible effect on how the state does business, but requires local units of government and schools to take action.
The trickle-down now is that state government has decided that any of the thousands of Kansans who have concealed-carry licenses can pack their guns wherever they go in the state—into county courthouses, city halls, libraries, rural water district and township buildings—just about any building built with taxpayer dollars. That means that those local units of government, which probably in the past month have downloaded and printed an official state no-guns poster, have until the end of the year to decide whether they are going to allow guns in their buildings or provide enough security that they can reasonably assure the public that nobody but law enforcement will have guns in the building.
The thought behind the new law: People who will abide by no-guns signs aren’t safe if there’s no checking to make sure everyone abides by the sign, because the bad guys likely won’t. If a building has enough security to keep guns out, then fine. If not, then licensed concealed-carriers should be allowed to have their protection with them.
The trickle-down to local units of government: Can they afford to pay for this?
Most local governing bodies are going to have to do the math to figure out whether they can afford to make sure that gun-carriers are flagged at the front door and told to take their guns back to their cars, or just let them in.
Do city halls install those metal detectors in the hallway and staff them with police to make sure that nobody in the building has a gun? Or, will the agency pat-down visitors, so that those who don’t carry guns can be sure they are in a gun-free building?
Now, be sure, that most days, it won’t really matter. Those people who carry concealed guns aren’t going to cause a problem when they go in to pay their water or trash bills or license their dogs.
But what happens when, say, the city council is considering allowing a Walmart to be built in the town square or consider a stop sign that parents believe is important to their children who walk to school? Or when the local property tax mill levy has to go up in order to pay police or gravel the county road?
Do people feel strongly enough about those issues that maybe, just maybe, they ought to attend the council meeting bare-handed?
At the Statehouse it’s a simple matter of deciding whether in the building, which has security officers and walk-through metal detectors, a concealed-carry prohibition can be reasonably enforced.
It’s not like that at the local library or city hall or most county courthouses.
That’s where the new state philosophy that concealed-carry is a right, not a privilege, trickles down to local units, which will have to decide how much, or whether, to spend money on the ability to ban guns from public buildings.
That’s trickle-down. Gonna be interesting to see how those county commissions, libraries and small units of government respond.