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Locals weigh in on concealed carry debate

12/17/2013

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT

mkenwright@dailynews.net

The Hays City Commission could reconsider concealed carry rules after a tied vote at last week's meeting.

With Commissioner Shaun Musil missing last week's meeting, there was a 2-2 vote on a proposal to delay concealed carry in city buildings for four years. The deadlock, by default, allowed guns on those properties. It would take a vote of the commission to prohibit weapons.

Musil can put the measure on the agenda for the Dec. 26 meeting because he did not cast a vote.

"I probably would have voted for the extension," Musil said. "I want to be very clear: I am not against guns."

According to everything he has heard, the law is poorly written, he said. Whether or not guns are allowed in the city's pool facilities is one unresolved question.

"I'm waiting to see if people want it brought back up. If they don't, I won't," he said. "As a commissioner, we have to go off what our people want."

As the number of gun owners surges, the debate surrounding Second Amendment rights intensifies.

Concealed carry handgun license applications increased 104 percent in Kansas from fiscal year 2012 to fiscal year 2013, according to the state attorney general's website. The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted 19 million firearm background checks nationally this year by the end of November, according to its website.

Joseph Boeckner, owner of Joe Bob Outfitters in Hays, said he agrees with concealed carry in public buildings because they are more prone to incidents.

"You're probably less likely to be mugged in your house," he said. "You're more likely to have, let's say there's a hostile shooter situation, somebody's mad at the cops, somebody's mad at a judge."

The decals on city buildings' doors that state firearms are prohibited are not a crime deterrent. Criminals, by definition, do not follow the law.

"Signs don't stop anybody. Speed limits don't stop anybody," Boeckner said. "You can still do 80 in a 40."

Boeckner claims there's little chances for an accident.

"The only way a gun is really going to hurt somebody is if somebody doesn't follow standard safety protocol," he said.

Concealed carry is most often a defensive measure, he said. People in abusive relationships are an example of people who might carry guns to feel safer.

"We've never had anybody take concealed carry classes that was doing it because they wished ill on anybody else or was ill-tempered ... it was because they felt threatened," he said.

Don Scheibler, Hays Police chief, said he recommended pursuing the four-year exemption to the commission. Despite the proposal's failure, he felt confident in the area's safety.

"I think we live in a good community. We have good people," Scheibler said. "We're very fortunate we have a low crime rate. I think, for the most part, people won't notice either way."

Steve Arnhold, Hays, was paying a bill last week at city hall. The prospect of guns in city buildings did not bother him.

"I feel safer. I'm all for concealed carry ... most gun owners I know are very responsible," Arnhold said. "There's no gunplay or tomfoolery involved."