Prairie Village residents ‘not comfortable’ with idea of openly carried guns at parks, says mayor

An open carry demonstration in Virginia.

Prairie Village elected officials on Monday responded to news that a city resident supported by the Kansas Libertarian party had filed a new lawsuit against the city’s ban on openly carried weapons on city property by reiterating their belief that the restriction is appropriate and legal.

Mayor Ron Shaffer said the City Council would discuss the new suit during its meeting Monday, but that “we fought this before, and I think we are very likely to renew that fight.”

Shaffer said the concept of home rule — the idea that local municipalities should be able to write their own laws in accordance with the character of their communities — was at stake, and that residents largely opposed the idea of having people walking down city streets with guns hanging from their hips.

“We’ve heard from our residents here, from our neighbors, that they don’t feel comfortable with the idea of open carry in parks,” he said. “We were expecting [the new suit]. It’s a disappointment. But here we are.”

The city also distributed a message Monday clarifying the particulars of the open carry ban on its books. The regulation applies only to city property — city buildings, public streets and sidewalks, and public parks and recreation spaces.

As Shaffer pointed out, “If you’re on your own property and want to open carry, that’s fine. If you go to your neighbor’s house and they’re okay with you open carrying, that’s fine. We’re just trying to control public properties.”

Prairie Village councilor Michael Kelly, who challenged Shaffer for mayor in 2011, has been an outspoken critic of the attempts to change the city’s open carry ordinance. On Monday, he reiterated his disdain for challenges to the city’s authority to set its own rules.

“Hiding behind the constitution is the last refuge of a scoundrel — plus it’s not very Libertarian,” Kelly said. “Sadly, [Libertarian party 2nd Amendment Chair] Earl McIntosh and the boys have co-opted a PV resident to do their dirty work locally. I hope PV residents will continue to support the city’s efforts to oppose the open carry of guns in PV.”