Today we run the responses from the candidates for Kansas state representative seats in northeast Johnson County to our first question submitted by our readers. Candidates for four districts are represented in the answers below. This is the first question of five we posed to the candidates on behalf of readers.
With the passage of new gun laws, the Kansas Legislature has removed the ability of cities to make their own choices on when and where open and concealed carry of firearms is allowed. Should cities be allowed to set their own restrictions on guns and knives? What are the major components of a gun bill that you could support?
Stephanie Clayton – District 19 incumbent
In the Kansas constitution, Municipalities have been granted Home Rule. I took an oath to uphold the Kansas Constitution, and as such, support the right of municipal governments to make their own decisions on how to govern themselves. I would gladly support a bill that would restore the constitutionally mandated Home Rule back to municipalities in this matter.
Patricia Stratton – District 19 challenger
I am in total disagreement with the current legislation which has eliminated the ability of cities to make their own rules regarding open and concealed carry of firearms and knives. The Preamble speaks of the need to provide for the general welfare. This, in my mind, means that we should feel safe in our daily lives. Clearly there is potential danger in having people walking around openly carrying guns. We need common sense measures regarding ownership and use of guns. We need regulations that are sensible and protect the community. We need to see more efforts in the area of mental health and more background checks. Under Governor Brownback, funding for mental health has decreased because he has refused to expand Medicaid and other tax saving measures.
Amy Bell – District 21 challenger
The State Legislature seriously stepped out of bounds when they decided to revoke the rights of municipalities to regulate guns as they see fit. Each municipality in Kansas has its own charm, identity, and challenges; the State Legislature should not presume to know what is best for every community on an issue such as this. I would support reasonable gun laws that allow local communities more leeway in the laws they would like set for their community. One key requirement that I would like to see in any gun bill that I would vote for would be closing the loophole for gun shows. This is not stronger gun legislation, it is simply giving us a better ability to enforce the ones we already have.
Barbara Bollier – District 21 incumbent
I support local control and voted against the recent bill that took away cities rights to determine where guns and knives are allowed. I would absolutely support the return of local control, but do not see passage of such a change as a possibility due to the current makeup of the Kansas legislature. However, I will work for change in our state regarding gun laws and would support mandatory background checks for any purchase of a gun. I would also support limitations on the type of guns available to the general public specifically related to the number of rounds that can be fired sequentially. While I support Second Amendment rights, I also recognize that guns are a public health issue and reasonable policy must be the goal surrounding guns.
Brandon Hermreck – District 24
Generally speaking municipalities should be left to make their own law, however, it would be very difficult for citizens to know the gun law for every city, especially within Johnson County where it is hard to know which city you are in at any given time.
Jarrod Ousley – District 24
Cities, Counties, and School Districts should have the local control to regulate firearms. As a gun owner and a hunter, I would support a bill that incorporates background checks to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands.
Jennifer Robinson – District 25 challenger
The gun lobby and their supporters have gone too far in Kansas. As a result, I have had to discuss with my daughters what to do if they see someone carrying a firearm while they are at the park or at the library. I believe guns have no place in our parks, libraries, schools, and other government buildings, including the State Capitol.
I believe local control over weapons laws is essential and should be restored because gun control is a contextual issue. For instance, a firearm may be necessary on a ranch in western Kansas, but that may not be the case in a more urban environment like Northeast Johnson County.
Additionally, the Brownback administration and the Legislature have decimated funding for mental health services. This, along with the loosening of our gun laws has created a powder keg. There have been incidents in our state where mentally ill people who were not getting the help they needed obtained and used a firearm, resulting in tragedy.
I would support a gun bill that contains the following:
– Universal background checks, including closing loopholes which allow domestic abusers and stalkers to purchase guns without background checks.
– A ban on military style assault weapons.
Limits on ammunition clips.
Increased funding for mental health services.
Melissa Rooker – District 25 incumbent
I support the 2nd Amendment and do not seek to interfere with the rights of law-abiding citizens to own firearms. I owned a gun for protection when we lived in LA, and understand the gun culture, having worked for “Dirty Harry” for 15 years. I support local control, and the constitutional right to home rule in Kansas. Vast differences exist between urban, suburban and rural needs – I voted to respect those differences and allow locals to determine what is best for their communities. To argue for uniformity across jurisdictions is actually an argument for federal control, and I do not think gun rights activists want that. I would be supportive of legislation that would restore home rule in Kansas. I would support an effort to improve background checks at point of purchase in order to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. I will continue to fight for increased funding for mental health services because getting people the help they need before tragedy strikes is a critical component of public safety.