Johnson County Sheriff Frank Denning and Overland Park Chief of Police John Douglass do not see eye to eye.
Several weeks ago, the sheriff posted on his website his position on weapon bans of any kind — pistols, semi-automatic or automatic weapons, as well as magazines that carry large numbers of bullets.
As reported, the sheriff came down hard on the idea of any bans. To ban weapons of law-abiding citizens, he said, was like “unilateral disarmament.”
We checked in with the sheriff to take his temperature on legislation brewing in Topeka that would allow concealed weapons in many public buildings, with some exceptions still being worked out by the Legislature.
Denning, who has been in law enforcement for 40 years and has been sheriff for the past eight years, supports this legislation and is all for concealed carry for law-abiding citizens who have been properly trained and are qualified to handle a weapon.
“I’m not as concerned about concealed carry as other government officials,” Denning said.
He said research shows “rampage shootings” usually involve a young man, 17 to 19 years old, who seeks out defenseless populations.
With that in mind, some legislators have suggested that in public schools the principal and assistant principal be trained and armed.
Denning goes beyond that.
“Teachers should have the option, if they are willing and able, to be armed,” Denning said.
Douglass could not disagree more.
The Overland Park police chief, who also has 40 years of law enforcement experience and has been chief for 17 years, is adamantly opposed to weapons in public buildings.
“A weapons-free environment makes more sense,” said Douglass. “The more weapons there are, the more potential there is for something bad happening.”
The chief is particularly opposed to weapons being carried into City Council meetings or legislative hearings.
Douglass cautioned that someone attending with a weapon might have a bad temper or be mentally ill.
“Back in the 1800s, everyone had a weapon,” said Douglass. “We banned them, and there must be a reason.”
Both men are extremely capable, well-respected law enforcement officials.
But we might as well get used to the Denning approach, because weapons everywhere will soon become the law of wild, wild Kansas.
| Special to The Star