Some Wichita city leaders and business owners have teamed up with the intention of reversing a new city ordinance that allows people to openly carry firearms without a permit.
The Wichita Eagle reported Sunday the practice became legal Thursday after the City Council passed the ordinance earlier this month.
Council members said their hands were tied by a 2007 state law that legalized concealed weapons, and that they made the move after state Attorney General Derek Schmidt said the city couldn't forbid open carry.
Before that, the city's law prohibited open display of a loaded firearm, but allowed people to carry concealed weapons if they had a permit.
Vice Mayor Janet Miller is one of several city leaders hoping to find a way to reverse the new city law.
"I'm not going to live in Tombstone," Miller said.
Kansas Sen. Dick Kelsey, a gun advocate who has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association, dismissed those concerns.
"We're talking about a non-issue here," Kelsey said. "We're not headed back to Tombstone."
He said he would be surprised if the new ordinance resulted in a proliferation of unconcealed weapons.
"Ask the concealed carry permit holders how often they carry," he said. "The answer is, they don't very often. I have two sons with permits and they don't carry often. Non-issue here."
City officials discovered a conflict between the local ordinance and the 2007 state law a year ago. They asked Schmidt for an opinion on whether it was OK for the city to ban unconcealed weapons. In December, Schmidt said it was not.
Some council members, however, are upset that the city is bound by a state law they believe is too liberal on guns and want to change the law.
"I think we need to go back and do two things," Councilman Jeff Longwell said. "Be out of compliance and be more restrictive, which I believe we can be. Or do we lobby the state? There could be some of that.
"We've got some questions to ask and figure out."
Business owners also are upset about the new ordinance, even though both it and state law allow shop owners the right to ban guns on their properties.
"People are going to be more apprehensive, no question about it," said Donnie Holman, who manages a local gun shop. "People see a guy with a gun when they walk into a store, they're not going in and they might not come back."
He said he's troubled that training isn't required for someone to buy a gun and a holster and walk around town openly packing.
"It's a big mistake," Holman said.
Page 2 of 2 - Law enforcement also isn't thrilled with the prospect of people openly carrying firearms because people can feel threatened by such displays. Deputy Police Chief Tom Stolz said there's also an added element of tension for officers in the field.
"Put yourself in the shoes of an officer, a sheriff's deputy, a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper," Stolz said. "You roll up on a call and you see a couple of people with guns drawn on each other and you're coming in as (a response to) a general disturbance.
"Officers are trained to protect life, and they see this happening and they don't know who's the good or bad guy," he said. "Yet they're facing split-second decisions. It's a recipe that is going to be extremely challenging for law enforcement."
Miller said she hopes the City Council will seek a thorough review of its options to overturn the open-carry ordinance.
"I don't have any sense at all that this is what the public wants," she said.