Last week I waxed eloquent and enthusiastic about a bill headed to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s desk that I called the “strongest pro-gun bill” in the country. And for a brief period it was. It said that any gun in the state of Kansas was off-limits to federal intrusion, referring to protections granted not only under the Second, Ninth and Tenth Amendments, but also to Section 4 of the Kansas constitution as well. It prohibited state employees from assisting the feds from enforcing unconstitutional laws and further considered any violations of the bill as felonies. It was really something to rejoice about. I wrote:
It not only covers individual citizens in the state but also protects manufacturers of firearms or firearms parts or suppliers to those manufacturers. In other words, if it has anything to do with firearms in the state of Kansas, the federal government cannot do anything that the state considers to be unconstitutional.
I even quoted one of the bill’s supporters who exclaimed as the Kansas legislature passed the bill: “Passage of SB 102 means that the Second Amendment and the Tenth Amendment are alive and well in Kansas!”
But the change of just two words in the bill weakened it considerably, and has caused me to withdraw my rejoicing over it. Those two words, inserted at the last minute by person or persons unknown but who knew exactly what he was doing, eliminated any gun not manufactured commercially or privately inside the state that had never left the state from the protection of the bill. Any other gun is not covered. That no doubt excludes most of the firearms owned in Kansas.
So at the request of my editor who brought this ingenuous bit of political watering-down to my attention I have asked him to make this correction to the end of that article:
Correction: Never underestimate the ability of a politician or a conference committee to make hash of a great bill. In the final bill which reached the governor’s desk, a slight change in language in the bill weakened it considerably. That change limited the protection under the bill only to those guns that were manufactured commercially or privately in the state of Kansas, thus neatly excluding all others from the bill’s protection. The author regrets not only the error but the change in the language of the bill which weakens it substantially. Our enthusiasm for the bill has also been greatly reduced.