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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • New law allows guns to be carried openly

  • Open carry has fewer restrictions than concealed carry
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  • The country changed July 1. Because of the 2013 Family Protection Act, it is now legal to openly carry handguns or long guns and unless the person is breaking a law or is in a building where open carry is prohibited, there is nothing law enforcement can do about it.
    Law enforcement is waiting to see the response to this change in gun regulations. Pratt County Sheriff Vernon Chinn doesn’t expect to see people walking down Main Street carrying a handgun or a rifle but if someone has an open carry permit, they are now within their legal rights to do so, Chinn said.
    If someone should see a person walking down the sidewalk through a neighborhood or happens to be at the lake for the Fourth of July and someone is walking around carrying a hand or long gun, they might be tempted to call law enforcement.
    The first question a law enforcement officer would ask is has the person pointed it at anyone or have they shot it. Just carrying it around is not a criminal act, Chinn said.
    One of the more unnerving parts of open carry is that it requires no permits or background checks. A similar qualification is in place for those who already have a concealed carry.
    “Once you get a concealed carry permit in Kansas, you are no longer subject to background checks,” Chinn said. “It seemed ironic that law enforcement officers are still subject to background checks.”
    A concealed carry permit requires a minimum of eight hours of training with a gun before the permit can be issued.
    The open carry application is done through the detention center in the Pratt County Jail. It has to be processed in the county were the person resides. They can’t go to another county and file there.
    The application is sent to the attorney general’s office who has staff the do background checks before a permit is issued or denied.
    It is up to the attorney general’s office if the permit is issued. The only say the county has in the matter is they can challenge the permit and send a letter to the attorney general’s office saying why they don’t want a permit issued, Chinn said.
    None of this takes place with open carry. No training is required at all and no background check. Just get the permit and go.
    Chinn urges anyone who wants an open carry permit to take at least the eight hours of training concealed carry permits require and not just read the safety instructions the come with the gun.
    No guidelines are in place how to carry a gun, although Chinn would like to at least see handguns in a safety holster.
    Page 2 of 2 - People need to remember that other Kansas laws are in effect when it comes to handling firearms.
    Pointing a gun at anyone is a crime and so is discharging a firearm unless defending themselves or defending someone else.
    Gun owners need to remember they can be criminally and civilly liable for the operation of a gun. Once a trigger is pulled, the shooter is responsible for where the bullet goes. If a child gets hold of a gun, the owner can be held criminally and civilly liable if something happens.
    Anytime a law enforcement officer discharges a gun, the use of that firearm will be challenged in court and the same is true for any gun owner. Get legal advice about the responsibilities carrying a gun either openly or concealed.
    Concealed carry means just that, the weapon is concealed. If someone puts a gun under a shirt or jacket but it is still visible, then it is not concealed and that is a misdemeanor if they don’t have an open carry permit.
    The county filed a plan for exemption to the 2013 Family Protection Act so concealed carry and open carry are not allowed in all county buildings. The exemption is valid through 2017. Signs are now displayed on county buildings prohibiting concealed and open carry.
    However, if a building is not posted, anyone with a gun can legally just walk in.
    A plan was filed with the state attorney general describing the proposed security plans for county buildings. Those plans are not available under the open records act because they deal with the security of a public building, Chinn said.

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