Empty holsters a sign of protest against Prairie Village open carry ban at picnic

Members of Johnson County Open Carry wore empty gun holsters on their hips at Harmon Park Sunday.

They grilled hot dogs, drank soda, tossed a frisbee — and wore empty gun holsters on their hips.

More than a dozen gun rights advocates associated with the Johnson County Open Carry group convened for a picnic at Harmon Park Sunday. And while the event resembled any typical summer gathering, attendees were blunt about its intent: serving as the grounds for a new lawsuit against Prairie Village’s ban on openly carried weapons.

“There is standing now,” said Libertarian Party of Kansas Second Amendment Chair Earl McIntosh, who came in for the picnic from Topeka, and was a plaintiff in the first lawsuit filed against the city, which a judge threw out last month. “They can prove there was injury.”

Specifically, the group says, Grant Nelson, the longtime Prairie Village resident who filed a Special Use Permit seeking permission for the group to openly carry firearms at Sunday’s event, can prove injury — Prairie Village denied his application, thus demonstrating in the group’s mind that the city’s ordinance infringes on Nelson’s second amendment rights.

Nelson said the group will file a new lawsuit quickly — perhaps within a few weeks, he said, but certainly not months. Nelson, an active member of the state’s Libertarian Party and vice president of Johnson County Open Carry, will be named as a plaintiff. There may be other plaintiffs as well.

Nelson said Sunday that he hasn’t been especially active in gun rights for long, but he has been heavily involved in the state’s Libertarian Party, and party leaders approached him about serving as the group’s local spokesperson on the issue after the lawsuit was thrown out.

The group has also filed for similar permits in Leawood and Lenexa, which both have open carry ban ordinances on the books. Lenexa will hold a meeting this week during which they’ll consider the group’s application and the ordinance in general, according to Johnson County Open Carry.

Libertarian Party of Kansas Second Amendment Chair Earl McIntosh wore a t-shirt with the text of the second amendment.