I couldn’t find an actual date, but Kansas has been what is known as “a right-to-carry state” for a long
time. That means we Kansas citizens have had the right to “openly” carry a firearm wherever firearms
are legally allowed. The two keys here are the phrases “openly carry” and “wherever firearms are legally
allowed.” Openly carry” means carrying a firearm within plain sight of everyone, not concealed and
out-of-sight. (Carrying a concealed weapon requires a special permit issued by the attorney general.)
“Wherever firearms are legally allowed” means NOT in libraries, hospitals, etc. and wherever else
firearms are prohibited by law.
I’ve been hearing and reading lately about a new Kansas law effective July 1 that supposedly allows
Kansas residents to openly carry a firearm. In light of my understanding of the above information,
thinking we already had that privilege you can understand my confusion. I’m pretty good and pretty
persistent about researching things like this, but it seemed the more I looked the less I found. Our local
police chief told me they had not been given any details yet and said that’s pretty common for a law
to be passed and details to follow some weeks down the road. Our local conservation officer basically
told me the same. I talked with Patricia Stoneking, president of the Kansas State Rifle Association (KSRA)
and finally got an explanation. It seems I wasn’t finding much because there isn’t much to find. Let me
It seems that years back numerous cities and counties in Kansas began urging lawmakers to somehow
let them regulate the open carry of weapons in their respective space, so in 2007 Kansas law was
modified allowing cities, counties and municipalities to do just that. A plethora of different local
regulations followed, things such as specifying or outlawing certain types of holsters or designating
where on your body a firearm must be carried for example. This made life confusing for people like
cowboys or ranch hands for instance who might routinely carry loaded side arms or long guns. If
they crossed into another county or went to town to eat or get supplies they could encounter totally
different regulations along the way.
Kansas House Bill 2578 (HB 2578) which took effect July 1 2014 now preempts all local ordinances to
allow firearms to be OPENLY carried anywhere here in Kansas. Now like I stated above, any provisions
or nuances that might accompany this bill don’t seem to be known by many yet. You can go online and
readily find the PDF file of the bill but it will do you little good to read it as it doesn’t say much about the
open carry of firearms. KSRA President Stoneking is currently touring Kansas providing explanations of
all Kansas gun laws and it would be good to attend one of her seminars. On July 19 at 6:00 PM she will
be at the Derby American Legion, 101 S Baltimore Ave. in Derby, KS. On August 7 at 6:00 PM she will be
in Topeka at the Golden Corral Restaurant, 1601 SW Wanamaker Rd, Topeka, KS.
In talking with our local police chief, I was reminded of the federal law called the Gun Free School Zone
Act that prohibits weapons from being carried on school grounds and sets a gun free zone around every
school. It seems this law is interpreted a little differently in every community also, so please check with
your local law enforcement authorities before showing up to pick up your kids at school with a Glock on
your hip or a loaded coyote gun in the pickup.
In researching this piece I also learned something I feel a little foolish about not already understanding.
I thought Wildlife and Parks law made it illegal to carry a loaded hunting weapon in a vehicle; that the
weapon needed to be unloaded during transportation. Our local conservation officer Hal Kaina told me
that they stress to hunter safety students that it is a better idea to carry your hunting weapon unloaded
in the vehicle, but it has never been illegal in Kansas to transport a loaded hunting weapon in a vehicle.
So there you have it. You know what I know about HB 2578; that it disallows any local regulation of open
weapons carry in the state. Talk to your local law enforcement people to know how the Gun Free School
Zone Act is interpreted in your area, and try to attend one of the upcoming info seminars, as will I, to
gain a better understanding of Kansas gun laws so you can legally continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors.
Steve can be contacted by email at email@example.com