With guns here to stay, efforts to make them safer deserve a chance



October 22, 2020 - 9:02 AM

In 2018, then-Republican Kansas state Sen. Barbara Bollier addressed a debate on gun issues in the Senate.

Kansas legislators are in a unique position to help make gun ownership a safer practice. 

In 2018, legislators took the positive step of passing a bill prohibiting those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from possessing firearms.

In 2021, they can eliminate a glaring loophole — as well as adhere to federal law — by adding the provision that abusers must relinquish all firearms already in their possession.

While this may appear a parsing of words, it’s a crucial step in helping create safer spaces. In Kansas, more than half of those who die from domestic violence are killed by guns. Most victims are women.

This issue is timely for two reasons.

First, October is domestic violence awareness month. 

Second, and more importantly, who you elect to office can make a difference in curbing violence.

In an average year, 386 people die by guns in Kansas. Among the nation, we rank 17th in the number of deaths committed by guns. Population-wise, we are 34th.

Of those deaths, almost 70% are by suicide, of which the vast majority are boys and men. 

To help prevent deaths caused by suicide and domestic violence, common-sense measures can help.

The so-called “red flag” law is an example. The measure allows family members or law enforcement to petition a judge to temporarily remove firearms from the home of a person who is seen to be a risk to themselves or others. Nineteen states have such laws. 

KANSAS GUN laws are exceedingly lenient.

In 2015, legislators passed a law allowing those 21 and older to carry a concealed firearm without a license or permit.

As of July 2017, concealed carry is permitted on the grounds of universities and colleges.

We have no law requiring background checks on those buying from unlicensed dealers or private sellers.

We have no law requiring licenses for gun owners or purchasers. Nor do we require gun owners to register their firearms.

We have no law banning assault weapons, guns equipped with large capacity ammunition magazines or the number of guns one can purchase at a time.

According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, named after former U.S. Congresswoman Gabby Giffords who in 2011 was shot point-blank in the head, Kansas lawmakers get an “F” for failing to protect their communities from gun violence. 

THE KANSAS chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America (there’s an SEK chapter that meets in Chanute) has endorsed 69 “gun-sense” candidates for the 2020 election. 

Moms Demand Action is a grassroots organization that works in coordination with Everytown for Gun Safety, which got its impetus in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting at which 26 people were shot dead, including 20 six- and seven-year-olds.