Openly carried guns to be absent at Harmon Park, but opening salvo in new legal battle fired

The group of gun rights advocates who asked the city of Prairie Village for permission to show up for a picnic at Harmon Park Sunday openly carrying weapons won’t come with guns swinging from their hips after all — but the permit application they filed in May is likely to become the subject of further legal action against the city in the near future.

The Harmon Park pavilion where Open Carry Johnson County will hold their picnic Saturday — without openly carried firearms.

The group, Johnson County Open Carry, met with Prairie Village Police Chief Wes Jordan last month to go over their Special Use Permit Application requesting permission to bring openly carried weapons to the Santa Fe Pavilion June 16. After the meeting, Jordan sent the group a note informing them the city was denying the permit based on the city ordinance that had been the subject of a legal challenge earlier this year.

“Per our discussion, this letter is to inform you the Special Use Permit is therefore denied on that basis and your application fee refunded,” Jordan wrote the group. “The Johnson County Open Carry Organization is welcome to picnic at the Park absent of exposed firearms. In addition as per our discussion, the Police Department will enforce the Ordinance if someone should chose to open carry.”

Johnson County Open Carry member and Prairie Village resident Grant Nelson said he was somewhat taken aback that the police department actually agreed to meet with them.

“I was kind of surprised that it got as far as it did,” he said. “We kind of thought they’d just look at it and say, ‘Nope.'”

Though the group will proceed with the event — with the possibility of some members wearing empty holsters as a sign of protest — Nelson said no one will bring an openly carried firearm.

“We’re law abiding citizens, so when they denied the permit, we knew we wouldn’t be bringing openly carried weapons,” Nelson said.

While the group may not have succeeded in gaining permission to openly carry firearms on Sunday, it has likely won a strategic victory for gun rights activists: the proof of “injury” that was sorely lacking in the Libertarian Party’s case against the city.

Nelson confirmed that he has been working with members of the Libertarian Party in coordinating their efforts.

“The next steps are kind of above my paygrade, but, yes, absolutely, legal action against the city is possible now,” he said.

Johnson County Open Carry has sought similar permits in Leawood and Lenexa as well.