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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Do I really have the right to keep and bear arms?

  • Recently as I surfed through the Kansas Wildlife and Parks website, I found a link I hadn’t noticed before, entitled Legislative Update.


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  • Recently as I surfed through the Kansas Wildlife and Parks website, I found a link I hadn’t noticed before, entitled Legislative Update.

    As I scanned through the summaries of all the Kansas House and Senate bills relating to we sportsmen, my attention fell on one in particular labeled “Senate Concurrent Resolution 1611.”

    In the explanation, one statement in particular grabbed me. It read “The proposed amendment (to our state constitution) would constitutionally preserve the right of a person to keep and bear arms for defense of self, family, home and state, for lawful hunting and recreationally use, and any other lawful purpose.”

    Now I’m not very active politically, but this I had to know more about, because I thought our state constitution already guaranteed me that. I called my state representative and was given the name of a particular legislator who was on the committee dealing with this issue, so I called him and left a message.

    Last night as I was literally thigh-deep in a pond checking beaver traps, my ever-present (at the insistence of my wife) cell phone rang from the pocket of my sweatshirt. It was the legislator I had called, Gary Hayzlett, House Republican from Lakin. I had the opportunity to question him about the resolution, and here is how the resolution reads along with the gist of our conversation.

    This is what is currently found in section 4 of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the State of Kansas: “The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security; but standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and shall not be tolerated, and the military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power.”

    The proposed amendment will read “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; but standing armies in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and shall not be tolerated, and the military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power.”

    Representative Hayzlett told me he recently had attended a gathering of legislators from several other states, where they were all admonished to review the policies of their respective states as they relate to the freedom to keep and bear arms. Given the current political climate, they were advised to make sure all language in those policies is as precise and specific as possible, so nothing about them can be argued or misconstrued.

    Representative Hayzlett said as they reviewed the above statement in our Kansas Bill of Rights, it was felt the opening words “The people” were a little vague, so the proposed amendment will change that to “A person,” then include the balance of that statement that adds “for the defense of self, family, home and state, for lawful hunting and recreational use, and for any other lawful purpose.”

    My final question to him was if this proposed amendment to our state constitution would trump any legislation on the national level that sought to take away our right to keep and bear arms. He said that obviously there was no guarantee, but the wording in the new amendment would make that right as iron-clad as it could be made here at the state level.

    Senate Concurrent Resolution 1611 passed easily in both the Kansas House and Senate and will now be on the ballet in the November 2010 general election, where its passage will amend the Kansas Constitution with the new more precise and specific wording.

    You can be sure I will remind you again about this in the fall, but for now, I’ll just say in November we will possibly have more reasons than ever before to get out and vote, this one included. I’m not always thrilled with decisions made by our state legislators, but I’m glad the majority of them in Topeka still believe and stand up for our right to keep and bear arms.

    Steve Gilliland is a syndicated outdoors columnist, and can be contacted by e-mail at stevegilliland@idkcom.net.

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