Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir told a civic group Wednesday he has “concerns” about the state’s new concealed carry legislation. Starting July 1, it will be legal for most people to carry a concealed weapon in Kansas, with or without a permit.
Not that he assumes people don’t carry guns without permits.
“We figure everybody is probably armed, anyhow,” he said. “Even people who have a conceal carry permit quickly realize that carrying a gun 24-7 is a pain,” he added.
Bellendir is quick to point out he’s a longtime member of the National Rifle Association; he got his first gun when he was 9 years old and he loves the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Even so, he compared arming citizens without training to handing a teenager the keys to a car without driver’s education.
The training that is required before obtaining a concealed carry permit won’t change under the new law, Senate Bill 45. The permits will still be available and will be recognized in 36 states that have reciprocal agreements with Kansas. But the permits themselves will be optional.
The sheriff said he hopes people who are unfamiliar with handguns will learn how to use them safely, and he hopes anyone who may be in a situation where they must make a decision to shoot – or not shoot – is aware of the law and safety issues.
Regardless of the law, his biggest concern is that an innocent person might be hurt. That could happen if an untrained person sticks a loaded gun in his pocket. It could also happen if an armed citizen pulled a gun at a crime scene, and then an armed law enforcement officer arrived.
“I do not oppose conceal carry, but is it a good idea to turn people loose with no training?”
If Bellendir wrote the law, he would implement something similar to the Hunter Safety Course that Kansans must take before hunting with firearms. “A class would at least give you the basics,” he said.
The law that allowed Kansans to receive training and apply for a concealed carry permit has been a good one, the sheriff said. So far, more than 400 Barton County residents have received the permits.
The Barton County Sheriff’s Office has sponsored the conceal carry classes in the past, and he said he hopes people will continue to seek the training. “A couple of local gun club owners are talking about it,” he said.