By Hutchinson News, Feb. 3
Last year, when the Kansas legislature was worried that local governments would complain about a mandate that expanded the state's concealed carry law to include government buildings, they solved that problem with another law making it illegal for municipalities to comment on the matter.
This year, that same group of lawmakers is seeking to further restrict the right of local control by imposing a statewide law that would bar cities from creating their own ordinances to regulate the open carry of firearms or using public funds for gun buyback programs.
Mike Taylor, a lobbyist for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County, offered the reasonable testimony that the practice of open carry is viewed differently in urban and rural settings — and that a one-size-fits-all approach might not function very well in Kansas.
And thanks to last year's law to silence discussion on the matter, Taylor might find himself in trouble for the comments.
According to a story in The Topeka Capital Journal, Rep. Brett Hildabrand, R-Shawnee, said he planned to ask for an Attorney General's opinion on Taylor's testimony to determine whether the lobbyist had violated the law.
This is not a gun issue — it is an issue of local control and an issue of whether Kansans are willing to accept the idea that local governments have no right to freely speak on issues that will affect their residents.
This legislature and administration have a history of laboring to silence dissent in any form — whether it be efforts to restrict counties from regulating corporate farms, to silencing those agencies that advocate for the disabled by threatening to withhold their funding. The message from Topeka is clear: If you're not with us, you're against us, and if you're against us, we are not interested in hearing anything you have to say.
One must wonder what Kansas will look like when the overwhelming majority has the power to do as it pleases, without fear that even the U.S. Constitution can stand in its way.
When such practices are put in place, it's worthwhile to consider the long view.
As rural Kansas continues to lose population and political clout, the urban areas are gaining — and one day may well hold enough power to impose its will on the entire state. When that day comes — and it most likely will — those urban areas could very well move to implement strong anti-gun laws that would apply equally to cities of 500,000 or towns of 500.
If these anti-free speech laws are allowed to stand and the people continue to allow Topeka to usurp the authority of individual communities, rural Kansans will effectively have no voice, no power, and no way to stop the juggernaut of the majority's will.