Legal challenges to Prairie Village’s and Leawood’s bans on openly carried firearms are still standing after a Johnson County court hearing Monday in which attorneys for both cities called for the case to be thrown out — though Judge David Hauber did dismiss the Libertarian Party of Kansas as a plaintiff in the suit.
The success of the cities’ motions for dismissal now appears to hinge on whether Hauber believes the two remaining plaintiffs, Kansas Libertarian Party chair Al Terwelp and Second Amendment chair Earl McIntosh, have actual “standing” to file their complaint against the cities. Hauber said the Libertarian Party itself could not be a plaintiff in the case because the cities’ ordinances did not pose any threat to the rights of political parties — only individuals.
But Hauber questioned whether the ordinances posed any threat to the rights of Terwelp, who lives in Overbrook, Kan., and McIntosh, who lives in Topeka, as individuals, either.
Matthew Corbin, representing Prairie Village, and Rebecca Yocum, representing Leawood, argued as much, pointed to the fact that the plaintiffs don’t live near Prairie Village or Leawood and didn’t demonstrate any plans to travel here. As such, the attorneys said, Terwelp and McIntosh don’t have standing to file the complaint because they have not shown that the city codes pose any real threat or injury. There has “to be real, concrete injury” for a plaintiff to have standing, Corbin said.
The Libertarians’ attorney, Lucas Thompson, argued that his clients suffered “irreparable” harm because they would not be able to arm themselves in the two cities and therefore would lose the “deterrent” effect against potential criminals.
Hauber directed pointed questions at Thompson about whether his clients had standing. If Terwelp and McIntosh wanted to demonstrate that the Prairie Village and Leawood laws hindered their constitutional rights, Hauber said, the two would likely need to enter the city limits with an openly carried firearm to see if they would be arrested.
“Insecurity and confusion is not standing,” Hauber said.
Thompson said his clients, who did not appear in court Monday, don’t oppose regulation of the open carry of firearms, but oppose an outright ban. He also told the judge that he has been directed to dismiss a case in Wyandotte County, leaving only the Johnson County cases. Thompson said if he loses on the dismissal motion, his clients have an option for appeal or new litigation.
Despite his tough questioning, Hauber deferred a ruling on the standing of the individual plaintiffs.