By JOHN HANNA | AP Political Writer
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas will strip cities and counties of their power to regulate guns and nullify local gun regulations in July, ensuring that it will be legal across the state to openly carry firearms. That adds to a string of victories in recent years by the Kansas State Rifle Association and other gun-rights advocates.
Gov. Sam Brownback announced Wednesday that he signed a bill preventing local officials from restricting the sale of firearms and ammunition or regulating how guns are transported and stored. The National Rifle Association has described the legislation as a model for states seeking to strip local officials of gun-regulating powers.
Brownback signed the measure without fanfare late Tuesday. The Republican governor last year signed a measure declaring that the federal government has no authority to regulate firearms manufactured, sold and kept only in Kansas and making it a felony for a federal employee to attempt to enforce federal regulations on such items.
“Kansans have long believed the right to bear arms is a constitutional right,” Brownback said in a statement.
Kansas law doesn't expressly forbid the open carrying of firearms, and the attorney general's office has in the past told local officials that some restrictions are allowed. The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., has prohibited the practice, but the bill would sweep any such ban away, except to allow cities and counties to prevent openly carried weapons inside public buildings.
Supporters of the bill contend that a patchwork of local regulations has infringed upon gun-ownership rights guaranteed by the Kansas Constitution and the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
But critics of the bill have argued that local officials know their communities best and should be allowed to regulate firearms.
Both the National Rifle Association and the San Francisco-based Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence say 43 states, including Kansas, already limit the ability of cities and counties to regulate firearms, though they vary widely in how far they go. The center says California and Nebraska have narrow pre-emption laws that leave substantial power to local officials, and five states—Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York—don't expressly pre-empt local regulation.