On July 1, all city ordinances pertaining to firearms become null and void, Pratt City Attorney Ken Van Blaricum said at the meeting of the City Commission on Monday.
Laws enacted in the last session of the Kansas Legislature will change some city policies relating to guns, and essentially “takes away any local control on the issue,” he explained.
A city ordinance prohibiting the discharge of a firearm within city limits will be void; however, state law makes the prohibition, with certain exceptions, such as destroying a rabid animal or in defense of self, Police Chief Gary Myers said.
The most significant effect of new legislation is that it is legal for licensed individuals to carry a gun — either concealed or openly — almost everywhere, Van Blaricum said. In Pratt, business owners may post signs against concealed carry, and prohibitions are still in effect at City Hall, the Pratt Municipal Building and the Pratt County Courthouse.
City personnel policies forbid most employees from carrying weapons on the job or in work vehicles; however, employees cannot be forced to disclose if they are licensed for concealed carry.
Van Blaricum believes the city policy against weapons in the building will stand; but he said there are many uncertainties about how new laws will be enforced.
“The Attorney General needs to give us (city attorneys and law enforcement personnel) some guidance,” he said.
Openly carrying weapons is “like the Old West,” he commented.
“We can control fireworks (they’re prohibited within city limits), but we can’t control firearms,” Commissioner Doug Meyer noted.
Chief Myers believes control measures are in place. His department “had a scare” during the Miss Kansas parade, he said, when they received a report of a person carrying a longarm weapon on Main Street. His instruction to officers was that if they encountered the person, they were to escort him to his vehicle so the gun could be secured. If he resisted, or caused resentment or fear, they could arrest him.
“If you ask me, that’s a breach of the peace, and he can go to jail,” Myers said.