Archive for Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Local reaction mixed to new gun law

March 29, 2006

Kansas's concealed carry law is not for everyone.

Richard Riedel, who has taught hunter safety classes since 1970, said he was pleased that Kansas passed the Personal and Family Protection Act. The bill will permit Kansans to apply for licenses to carry concealed guns.

"Of course being an NRA (National Rifle Association) member, I'm 100 percent for it," Riedel said. "I've worked for it, I've called different legislators and I'm a personal friend of Candy Ruff, who sponsored the bill in the House."

And then there's Frank Kukuk, a retired school superintendent who lives near Jarbalo.

"I find it real difficult to understand why this is a good idea," Kukuk said.

Kukuk said he would prefer guns be in the open.

"It might not seem like a serious statement," Kukuk said. But I think if it's necessary that we be armed, I'd just assume we wear them on the outside and go for Dodge City."

Roundabout path

The Personal and Family Protection Act has followed a circuitous path this year. The bill passed in the House and Senate, then was vetoed by Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. However last week, lawmakers voted to override the governor's veto. The bill will become law on July 1, and after Jan. 1, concealed carry permits will be issued.

According to Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline's Web site, the law requires applicants to undergo a background check and gun-safety training before receiving a permit. The law also includes restrictions on who can apply for the permit.

Busy day

Tonganoxie businessman Jeff Howlett, who owns Kansas Firearms Specialties, was pleased that Senate Bill 418 passed.

"It's a long time coming," Howlett said Thursday afternoon. He noted Kansas was one of four states that had not allowed concealed carry.

Howlett said he'd had a number of phone calls that day from customers and friends who were glad the bill passed.

Around mid-afternoon, two men entered his shop. A tall man, his silver hair pulled into a pony tail, reached to shake hands with Howlett.

"Congratulations on concealed carry," Jim Krstolick, a retired Kansas City, Kan., police detective, said to Howlett.

Steve Rice, a McLouth resident who does welding and fabricating in the Kansas City area, also congratulated Howlett.

Krstolick said he thought the concealed carry law would make Kansas safer.

"I think we're going to see a great reduction in crime," Krstolick said.

Krstolick said that in the past when he interviewed burglars, they would tell him their greatest fear was that when they broke into a home the homeowner would be there -- and armed.

"You're going to see a significant reduction in carjacking because they don't know if you're armed," Krstolick said. "You will see a significant reduction in other crimes -- ATM robberies, rapes, strong arm robberies, as well."

Krstolick said people who use guns need to be trained in how to use them. He compared drivers education with gun training. Cars, like firearms, can be deadly, he said.

"You have to take the course, you have to learn to bear the responsibility, and if you don't pass the test you don't get the license," Krstolick said.

Krstolick said that in 2004, the United States Senate passed H.R. 218, which allowed qualified active duty and retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed weapons.

"Retired law enforcement officers can carry any firearm from sea to shining sea," Krstolick said. He noted there are places, such as federal buildings, where the law does not apply. And, he said, to qualify for his concealed carry license, he had to pass a test and shooting trial with firearms.

Krstolick, who now has been retired for six years, passed the tests.

He reached into his left jeans pocket and pulled out a .380 ACP caliber pistol.

"I've carried one for 30 years and never shot anybody," Krstolick said.

Watch for the bad guy

Tonganoxie chief of police Kenny Carpenter said he signed a petition in favor of the concealed carry law. And, he added, he thought most of the police officers on the department signed it as well.

"I'm for it, good or bad," Carpenter said. "My personal feelings are that the people who qualify to get a license are not the people we need to worry about. I've been a police officer for 35 years and I've never had one problem with a law abiding citizen and a weapon."

However, Carpenter said, problems can arise with different people carrying weapons. In other words, it may be hard for a police officer to determine whether it's the "bad guy" or the "good guy" who's holding a firearm.

Or more extreme, he said, it could be the case of an on-duty police officer running up against an off-duty police officer in a situation where they both have drawn their weapons.

"There has been over the years off-duty police shot by on-duty police, so that probably can happen, but the likelihood is low," Carpenter said.

The key to preventing mishaps is training, Carpenter said.

To obtain a concealed carry license, Carpenter said, applicants must undergo eight hours of training, and much of that training, he said, deals with safety.

"I'm a firearms instructor," Carpenter said.

In general, some of the safety rules are basic, Carpenter said: keeping the firearms away from children, leaving the guns unloaded, keeping the lock on it, and if stopped by a police officer, immediately telling him or her that you're armed.

And, Carpenter said, the new Kansas law includes a "laundry list" of where concealed firearms may not be carried.

Again, he stressed that the people he's worried about are not those who will apply for concealed carry licenses.

"There are many young hoods that belong to gangs that are running around there with assault guns that are a danger to society," Carpenter said. " ... Those are the ones I worry about."

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