In an attempt to refresh our memories about gun laws in Kansas, Joyce and I attended a recent gun law seminar at Treasure Chest Gun Shop in McPherson. The evening was sponsored by an organization called U.S. Law Shield (of Kansas) that provides a firearms legal defense program in the form of an insurance policy for people that become involved in self defense situations where force is used to defend people or property.
The first half of the evening was presented by an Olathe KS police officer who helped us better understand interaction between a law enforcement officer and an armed citizen. The latter half of the program was presented by a Wichita criminal defense attorney who explained to us legal ramifications of using a firearm for protection. I’ll tell you a few things we learned, and catch you up on basic gun laws in KS.
Because of what’s known as the Open Carry Law, Kansans have been legally able to carry guns for years, as long as they were fully visible and as long as they were carried in accordance with all federal, state and local ordinances, and were carried only where legally allowed. As of 2015, Kansans can now carry concealed firearms without a permit, but still in accordance with all ordinances and only where allowed. Some signs found on the doors of businesses bar all guns, and some bar only concealed carried weapons, still allowing for a weapon to be openly carried.
Even though no permit is required to carry a gun, many people choose to take the class required to get a permit so the gun can be carried in other states that recognize our KS permit. Currently 38 other states recognize the KS concealed carry permit, making it legal for a KS resident to carry a concealed gun in their states. The Kansas Attorney General’s website lists those states.
The Olathe police officer told us we are not legally required to tell a law enforcement officer if there is a gun in our vehicle unless we’re asked. However, he said officers like to have that information volunteered. He felt that officers don’t have a problem with a gun in a vehicle as long as the occupants are calm and don’t reach for the gun. For years I was under the assumption that no loaded gun could be carried in a vehicle. However, it is perfectly legal here in KS to carry any loaded firearm in a vehicle, be it handgun, hunting rifle or shotgun. I live across from a grade school, and I’m still allowed a loaded firearm in my vehicle as long as I don’t enter school property with it. Just make absolutely certain that any loaded gun transported in a vehicle has the safety on.
Both the attorney and the officer agreed that laws governing firearms use in self defense situations are not absolutely black and white, and if you use a gun in self defense, there will be an investigation whether you pull the trigger or not. So even if you are completely justified in using a gun to defend yourself you will probably still end up in court before the situation is sorted out. The court will first consider if you truly used the gun in self defense; if you were on the offense and shot an unarmed person or someone that didn’t really have the opportunity to harm you or your family, your goose is probably cooked. Then they will consider whether or not you had the means and ability to flee the confrontation; could you have all run out the back door or were you backed into a corner. Next considered will be whether or not you used appropriate force in the situation; did you shoot a little old lady armed with only a box cutter that you probably could have subdued, or was the attacker a hulking man backing you into a corner with a hunting knife or a gun of his own. To decide if you truly acted in self defense, the court will look for evidence, like surveillance camera footage for instance, and then try to determine if you truly had reason to fear for your life. The other determining factor will be whether or not the court believes any other reasonable human being would have done the same thing in that situation, and if yours was the appropriate response.
I’m all for being able to carry a gun, but I’m from the old school and feel that everyone doing so should have some certified training, even now that no permit is required. And I feel a gun should only be carried for hunting or for defense of you, your family and your home, not just because you now can with no permit. Seminars like this and firearms training classes do more than teach marksmanship and gun safety; they also expose the student to all the above information that has to be considered and that comes into play when pulling the trigger on a firearm aimed at another person. Please carry responsively as you continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors.
Steve can be contacted by email at [email protected]