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Prairie Village police put gun issue in perspective with presentation to council
Between the renewed debate over federal gun control and Prairie Village’s decision to defend its ban of openly carried firearms, PV city hall has been fielding a bevy of questions about what, exactly, is legal and illegal when it comes to firearms in the city.
On Monday, Prairie Village police tried to answer them.
Sgt. Byron Roberson walked the city council and a group of spectators — including local state representatives Barbara Bollier, Stephanie Sawyer Clayton and Melissa Rooker — through the state and city laws that dictate when, where and how citizens are allowed to carry firearms.
Among the information Roberson presented:
- Since the Kansas Legislature passed the Personal and Family Protection Act in 2006, more than 55,000 Kansas have applied for concealed carry licenses.
- The sheriff’s department has the power to deny concealed carry license applications based on applicants’ criminal records or previous mental health history. But cities don’t have input into whether one of their residents is qualified to receive a concealed carry license until after after it has already been granted by the sheriff’s office and attorney general.
- A state law requires that people must be not take firearms any nearer than 1,000 feet away from schools — except for Kansas concealed carry permit holders, who are allowed to have their weapons on school property, but not carry them inside.
The presentation also included a demonstration of a number of firearms, including assault-style rifles like the ones used in the Aurora and Sandy Hook massacres. Roberson told the audience that a well-trained individual could unload two 30-round magazines within 20 seconds. He had two such weapons on display, both of which had been confiscated within the city limits.
“They call them assault rifles because they’re really made for the military. They are made for war,” Roberson said. “They’re not that accurate, which is why they aren’t really good for deer hunting. But they are very devastating.”
Police Chief Wes Jordan, who has expressed concerns about his department’s increasing role in dealing with mentally unstable individuals in the wake of state budget cuts for mental health programs, said in his career he had “seen a correlation with mental illness and a fascination with weapons.”
“It’s not every case,” he said. “But it is something that I’ve observed.”
For instance, Jordan told the council of the department’s interactions over the years with a resident — now deceased — who had mental health issues and who had spent $150,000 on firearms over two years. After a run in with the law, a judge ordered that all the man’s weapons be confined. Police were supposed to take the weapons, but they literally did not have space to hold them. In the end, police had the locks on the man’s gun safes changes so he couldn’t access them.
“We actually held some special training in case we ever had a problem there,” Jordan said. “Because we didn’t know how we would deal with that kind of firepower. We figured it would probably take two SWAT teams to subdue.”
The presentation was an eye-opener for many in the room — particularly the information about how simple it is for your average citizen to obtain a weapon.
“It’s easier to buy a gun than it is to buy Sudafed,” said councilor Laura Wassmer.
(We’ll post a copy of the PPT presentation Roberson used later today).
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