Lawsuits were filed Friday against two Johnson County cities and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., alleging they are violating citizens’ constitutional rights by banning the open carry of firearms.
The Libertarian Party of Kansas filed suits against Prairie Village, Leawood and the Unified Government, seeking injunctions to prevent them from enforcing their bans.
“The denial of inherent truth will not stand!” party officials said in a written statement Friday. “Our efforts will continue until all law-abiding citizens in Kansas have freedom from persecution to exercise their Second Amendment rights to bear arms by open carry.”
Only four local governments in Kansas ban the open carry of firearms in public, according to Libertarian Party officials.
The party said it did not sue the fourth city, Lenexa, because city officials recently notified them that they would “like to discuss a path toward compromise,” according to a written statement. Lenexa city officials were not available for comment Friday afternoon.
Libertarian Party officials had intended to file the suits a week earlier, on what turned out to be the day of the Connecticut school shooting. But party officials announced a delay due to “unforeseen circumstances.”
The suits filed Friday quote part of the Kansas Constitution that states, “A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and state, for lawful hunting and recreational use, and for any other lawful purpose.”
Last year, the Kansas attorney general issued a legal opinion that said cities can regulate how weapons are carried, but an outright ban violates state law.
Since then, attorneys representing the party have sent letters to officials in cities with bans asking them to “examine their firearm (weapons) ordinances and make sure they comply with the current open-carry statutes, case law and attorney general opinions.”
Since then, several cities, including Gardner, Wichita and Overland Park, have rescinded bans.
When Overland Park officials acted in September to lift its ban, many citizens complained.
The city’s new ordinance requires that openly carried firearms must be holstered, have the safety engaged and be within a person’s immediate control. It applies to all public places except buildings that have signs prohibiting weapons.
In response to the negative public response, Overland Park officials are considering additional restrictions, including possibly requiring the same type of training and licensure needed for a concealed-carry permit.
Earl McIntosh, the Libertarian Party’s Second Amendment chair, said it was not asking people to carry weapons.
“We simply want the cities to follow the law,” he said. “If they don’t like the law, then they should go to the legislature and ask them to change it.”
The city administrators for Prairie Village and Leawood said Friday that they could not comment on pending litigation. In October, Leawood officials reiterated that they were standing by the current law.
A spokesman for the Unified Government also said that he could not comment.