Kansas gun rights supporters cheered as Governor Sam Brownback signed a multi-faceted pro-gun bill on Tuesday. The bill, HB 2578, passed state legislators with overwhelming bipartisan support earlier this month. Among other provisions, the bill will prevent municipal authorities from implementing local gun and knife regulations, ban the use of taxpayer funds for gun buyback programs, and prevent government employers from creating a database of gun owners among their employees.
“This bill had in it something for everybody in a sense. People who really want to see gun freedom extended in our state should be very happy with this bill,” state Representative Jim Howell (R-Derby), who supported the bill, told The Wichita Eagle. “At the same time people who want more safety around firearms and more teeth for our law enforcement […] those people really are also fans of this bill because it creates clarity on their end also.”
HB 2578 also includes a provision that prohibits a gun owner from carrying a firearm while intoxicated.
The bill was drafted as a push by lawmakers and Second Amendment groups to make gun laws across the state more uniform. HB 2578’s supporters claim that the patchwork of firearm regulations in Kansas foster confusion and can be a problem for both gun owners and police to navigate. Critics say that some local authorities see a need for stricter gun regulations than elsewhere in the state.
“The fact is each county might have a different perspective on this. I’ve certainly got rural counties that are quite comfortable with guns in the courthouses and they know that their community is comfortable with that,” said Melissa Wangemann, general counsel for the Kansas Association of Counties.
Gun control groups also widely opposed the bill. Some activists, such as Jonathan Lowy of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, criticized the governor for signing the bill two weeks after shootings at a Jewish community center and retirement community that took three lives.
“It is outrageous. It’s contrary to public safety, and it’s undemocratic,” Lowy told the Associated Press. “This is certainly one of the more extreme pre-emption laws that I’ve seen.”
The law will take effect in July.