For the second time in three years, the Prairie Village City Council has begrudgingly changed the city’s firearms policies in response to a mandate from the state government.
Acknowledging that failure to do so would likely bring legal action from the Kansas Attorney General or possibly an employee, the council on Monday approved with a 7-4 vote a change to its policies allowing licensed city employees to carry concealed firearms on the job. As a result of the signing of HB 2502 by Gov. Sam Brownback last month, all Kansas municipalities will be required on July 1 to allow city workers to carry concealed firearms both inside city buildings and in the field while on assignment. Employees will not be allowed to store weapons in city vehicles on the job, but could carry them while performing city work like parks maintenance or building inspections.
Some councilors suggested openly defying the legislature and waiting for the state to take action to force the city’s hand.
“You know what? I’m getting tired of being told by the state legislature about gun carrying, who can carry and all this nonsense that’s going on in Topeka,” said Ward 6 Councilor Terrence Gallagher. “I don’t support this. I figure we wait until they turn around and tell us we have to implement it and we don’t pass it. We say, the heck with you.”
Gallagher joined councilors Jori Nelson, Dan Runion and Courtney McFadden in voting against the policy change. But a majority of councilmembers heeded the warning of city attorney Katie Logan that there appeared to be little precedent for the city to ignore the new state law. Some of the councilors noted that they were voting in favor of the measure “under protest” because they felt they had no choice.
Assistant City Administrator Wes Jordan said the city was already working on training protocols for the new policy and would take adherence to its particulars seriously. Under the policy, employees will not be allowed to concealed carry in the police department building. Moreover, the choice to carry a concealed weapon cannot “interfere or delay in the performance” of assigned duties. Employees who choose to carry a concealed weapon would be required to comply with any gun restrictions requested on private property.
“If there are violations, it’s going to lead to discipline including termination,” Jordan said.
In 2014, Prairie Village and Leawood were forced to remove their city-wide bans on openly carried weapons in response to the passage and signing of HB 2578, a law that drew similar protest from council members. Jordan reminded the council that another change to city gun law was likely coming as well. Next year, the city’s exemption from HB 2052 — which allows member of the public to carry concealed firearms in city buildings will expire. Unless the city council decides to hire an armed security guard and install metal detectors at its entrances, an expensive proposition, it will have to change city law to comply with the state statute by next summer.
The new employee policy approved by the council on Monday is embedded below.