Past the Jan. 1 deadline to comply, Ford County will be removing it's no-weapons signs from most county-owned buildings.
Following the lead of municipal and county governments across the state, Ford County has removed its signage barring concealed weapons in government buildings following a vote by the County Commission.
The law passed last year removed exemptions to government buildings, making Kansas and Nevada states with the broadest concealed carry laws, requiring local governments to open their buildings for concealed weapons or secure their buildings against all weapons.
The purpose of the law, signed by Gov. Sam Brownback in April, was to force local governments to secure buildings against all weapons if they wanted to disarm legal concealed carriers before entering.
The cost to secure buildings with locking doors or staffed checkpoints with metal detectors would have ranged in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for equipment alone, Ford County Administrator Ed Elam said.
It also wouldn't have been fiscally possible to have Sheriff's deputies cover entrances, County Chairman Chris Boys said. The county may revisit the issue if the price of screening technology decreases, though Boys wasn't sure residents had the desire to close the buildings to weapons or deal with screening procedures every time they wanted to enter a government building.
Ford County, like most local governments throughout the state, took a six-month extension to make a decision. The extension ended on Jan.1.
Governments could have applied for another extension up to four years if they submitted to the state a plan to purchase equipment and secure entrances.
Dodge City quietly removed the signs barring weapons at the start of the year. Schools remain exempt from allowing legally carried weapons, but the library, City Hall and courts are not.
Dodge City Manager Cherise Tieben said the state requirement left little room for debate and no need for a cost study: the number of new hires that would be required to staff checkpoints would be larger than any hiring the city has done in the 10 years.
Wichita's cost study indicated it would require $14 million per year to secure all of its city-owned buildings, the New York Times reported. Instead it decided to secure select buildings and open the rest.
Boys asked Elam during the County Commission meeting Monday if it would now make sense to add signage that it was now legal for concealed weapons permit holders to carry into the buildings, but Elam indicated that it was not necessary.
The concern was never people with concealed carry licenses, Elam said, but those without. Now, if a weapon is spotted, it is harder to determine whether the gun is being carried legally.
Some county-owned properties will remain closed to concealed weapons, including the Crisis Center which keeps its doors locked and the Santa Fe Trails Community Corrections office, which has a metal detector. Secure areas in jails or law enforcement agencies are also exempt from the law.
The law does not apply to private businesses even if they rent space in a state or municipal building. It also has no effect on federally-owned government buildings. Buildings also owned by a local government for purposes of bond financing are also exempt from the 2013 law.
Judges can also restrict weapons in courts if there are other means of security, such as armed law enforcement officers, according to the Kansas Attorney General's office.
Buildings that have been secured and made exempt from the law should display a new sign showing a handgun with a red circle and cross, with the word "exempt" under the icon and a reference to the law.
Since passing the concealed carry law in 2006, Kansas has issued more than 80,000 concealed carry permits. Last year, 20,299 licenses were awarded — nearly double the previous year — 47 applications were denied, 86 licenses were suspended and 29 were revoked.