The nation’s attorney general has informed Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback that he recently signed an unconstitutional law.
Brownback surely knew that when he approved Senate Bill 102, which declares that guns and ammunition are exempt from federal law simply because they were manufactured and owned in Kansas. Anyone with a basic knowledge of American civics is aware the U.S. Constitution declares federal law supreme over state law.
That Brownback signed the bill into law anyway speaks volumes about what is going on in Kansas. And in Missouri, where a similar bill, the “Missouri Firearms Freedom Act,” has been passed by the House.
Both states’ legislatures have been blatantly disrespectful of the federal government, of law enforcement officers and of the union itself. They have shown callous disregard for the many families who have lost loved ones to gun violence and who want to see reasonable safety measures enacted.
Lawmakers in both states have used the massacre of 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Conn., as an impetus to propose a host of laws designed to put more guns into the hands of more people and to weaken what gun safety measures we have. Their behavior has been shameful.
Among its other faults, the unconstitutional law signed by Brownback is fiscally irresponsible. Derek Schmidt, the Kansas attorney general, has asked the Legislature for an additional $225,000 over two years to begin to cover the legal costs it is expected to generate.
After word of the letter from U.S. Attorney Eric Holder reached Kansas, the president of the Kansas State Rifle Association speculated as to how the law might generate a clash with the federal government. One possibility would be if federal authorities learned that a Kansas firearms dealer was ignoring federally required background checks for state residents purchasing Kansas-made guns, Patricia Stoneking told The Associated Press.
Wait a minute. Do most Kansans really want state officials spending their tax money to battle the federal government over background checks at gun shops? We doubt it. Most Americans want background checks expanded.
Do most Kansans want their state government prosecuting federal law enforcement agents for doing their jobs? We doubt that, too.
Besides the unconstitutional law called out by Holder, Brownback also signed a bill making it easier for people to carry guns in schools, on college campuses and at work.
In neighboring Missouri, rarely does a day go by when the legislature does not devote at least a couple of hours to gun-related matters. This week the House passed a bill authorizing tax credits for gun manufacturers. That’s right, firearms makers would get a break from the taxes most other businesses are required to pay.
Other bills working their way through the process would lower the legal age for carrying a concealed handgun from 21 to 19, enable designated school personnel to bring guns to work, allow state employees to keep firearms in their cars on state property, expand open carry of handguns, declare a “sales tax holiday” for purchases of guns and ammunition, and expose businesses to lawsuits if someone is harmed in a building that was posted as gun-free.
State politicians are working for the gun lobby now. They are willing to give away taxpayers’ money, abandon pro-business principles and call their civic loyalty into question to expand gun rights that very few people are even asking for.
If anyone should be up in arms at this point, it is the citizens of Missouri and Kansas.
Copyright The Kansas City Star. Reprinted with permission.