Lawyers, guns and money
Well-funded advocates of the right to openly carry firearms – based in Virginia — have recently announced their intent to sue the City of Prairie Village. The Virginia-based organization is taking aim at a city ordinance that limits a person’s ability to carry a gun openly. I decided to discuss my opposition to open-carry in the City of Prairie Village from the safety of the PVPost — knowing full well that the only return fire I’d receive would be in the form of the hot-white-heat of a piercing comment.What would be the purpose of open-carry in Prairie Village? For sport perhaps? To keep roving packs of Labradoodles at bay? Unlikely. I presume it would be for personal protection. If personal protection is the motive, then why is open-carry the answer? Especially given that PV has no restriction regarding conceal-carry. If a person is concerned for their safety while they are at the Hen House or strolling along the Tomahawk trail, then conceal-carry allows them to feel a sense of security without needlessly intimidating their neighbors.
How are parents and children to know – and to know in time — whether the gun slinger on aisle 23 is completely insane or just a well-meaning (albeit lost in space) constitutionalist? If open-carry is forced upon Prairie Village then we will live in a community that is more gun-friendly than Wyatt Earp’s Dodge City. Where Wyatt could ask Doc Holiday to check his gun at the City Limits, our Police Chief would be forced to resist the inquiry of why someone is standing at the corner of 71st and Mission with a Glock or SIG on his hip!
Open-carry proponents believe that the people of Prairie Village are constitutionally obliged to permit them to openly carry a firearm in public places. They cite the Federal Constitution as well as recent interpretations of the Kansas Constitution as the foundation of their argument. As a gun owner myself, I agree that the constitution provides protections to gun owners. And, I fully support the constitutional right of citizens to self-defense.
Open-carry advocates erroneously point to the recent Supreme Court ruling of District of Columbia v. Heller to bolster their argument. In District of Columbia v. Heller Justice Scalia wrote that, “… the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table.” However, Justice Scalia was speaking of the right to use handguns in defense of one’s home and not of some imaginary right to openly “pack heat” at Porter Park.
Can the people of PV in any lawful way set limits on where and how one can publicly possess a weapon? As a City we set limits on a host of endeavors affecting our welfare. The Council recently passed an ordinance requiring a permit for neighborhood events that might diminish a neighborhood’s safety. As a City we restrict the number of animals you can possess. As a City we restrict the volume of your music and the speed of your car. We restrict the type and use of buildings that are allowable in our City. Soon you will be restricted from yelling “FIRE” in a crowded theatre in Prairie Village.
On a daily basis we all live with restrictions on our activity in PV. Each of these restrictions could likely be found unconstitutional if challenged in front of an amenable Judge. Yet, these restrictions are enacted by locally elected officials. These restrictions are designed to enhance the City’s livability and to protect our property values.
Should it ever come to pass that our local laws are written by outside interests in any manner that betrays the best interests of the community, then Council members and Mayors can and should be removed on Election Day.
Whether they are from Virginia, Neptune or KCMO, well-funded and well-lawyered groups — with selfishly driven motivations — ought not to be allowed to negatively impact the character and charm of our City. If the safety and well-being of our citizens are illegitimately infringed upon by recent interpretations of the Kansas Constitution then the Kansas Constitution must be amended.
If required, Prairie Village should initiate and lead that process. I ask that you support the Mayor and the Council efforts to fight open-carry in Prairie Village.