The Confusion about Carrying a Firearm

NRA Guide to State Firearm LawsMore and more people feel the need to arm themselves these days. I suppose with all the criminal activity reported on the news people are more fearful and want to defend themselves, and for good reason. The sad part of this is the confusion pertaining to firearm laws. People who think they are law abiding citizens find themselves in trouble and end up arrested when they had absolutely no criminal intent. Unfortunately, the same is true with many of the laws and regulations in our country. It is not possible to keep up with them all, not even for attorneys.

There is little doubt that the laws for owning, carrying and transporting firearms are confusing. There are a large number of Federal Statutes dealing with weapon ownership, and each State has its own laws. None of the laws are the same so it is nearly impossible to know what is legal anywhere you go. Seems unfair, but that’s the way it is.

Kansas has opened its laws by not requiring anyone to have a permit or license to carry a firearm.  This is true whether you are hiding a gun in your pocket (called concealed carry) or if you wear it out in the open like a cowboy in the old west (called open carry). There are still a number of unknowns even in Kansas with these very unrestricted carry laws.

For example, be very careful not to “brandish” a gun. Brandish is a non-legal term that means you are handling a gun in a way that someone near you thinks they are being threatened. You can’t point a gun at someone or point the gun and threaten to use it. Also, you can’t pull your coat aside to reveal your hidden pistol like you see in the movies. All of these acts can get you arrested for Assault with a Deadly Weapon.

Further, there is no direction legally on whether you can carry your concealed pistol into a business or public place that has a “no weapons” sign on the door. This is the sign you see with a gun in a red circle with a slash through it.  Remember, if you have a concealed carry permit you must abide with that sign as it is part of the concealed carry license requirements. No such requirement is made on someone without a concealed carry permit.

This may seem unfair, but in Kansas you can carry concealed with or without a permit. If you have a permit you definitely have to abide with the regulations of that permit which are more restrictive than carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. Be safe and don’t take your weapon into a building marked with the no weapons sign, and if you have a concealed carry permit, make sure you are familiar with the restrictions that come with that permit.

NRA Building Fairfax VAIn Kansas it is pretty safe to carry any weapon however you like.  Don’t assume that to be the case in any other state.  That gun in your car glove box can get you arrested in almost any other state in the Union. If you must transport a weapon outside Kansas, be certain to check the laws of the state you are traveling to before you go. This is a pretty easy search on the internet.  The NRA has an excellent summary of all state carry laws here. The site also includes links to other states that recognize your permit to carry.

Additionally, you can transport a firearm on the airlines if you comply with all the requirements of the state you are flying to and the requirements of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).  You can see these regulations here.

It is also important to note that Kansas is experiencing some problems with the expungement statute.  Federal law allows someone that has been convicted of Domestic Violence, but had the conviction expunged, to purchase and own a firearm. Because of the way the Kansas Expungement law is written, Kansans that have ever been convicted of Domestic Violence can never own a firearm, even after the conviction is expunged. If you get charged with Domestic Violence, be aware that it will affect your gun ownership rights in Kansas forever.

Although Kansas is very lenient with concealed and open carry from a statutory standpoint, be very aware that local law enforcement is not at all comfortable with you being armed. Be it either open carry or concealed carry, when a “Barney Fife” discovers you are armed they will likely try to figure out a way that you are breaking the law and get your weapon from you.  The right to carry arms is still considered by law enforcement and statute a right to hunt and defend yourself.  Any action other than these two purposes will likely get you in trouble and you will be visiting me. So, be wise, be smart, and enjoy and use your firearm wisely.