The COVID-19 pandemic combined with nationwide unrest and rioting after the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer has led to a number of instances of government overreach, especially concerning the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. But at least one state’s politicians have used the emergency to strengthen the rights of gun owners, rather than to reduce those liberties.
We told you last week how the mayor of West Palm Beach, Florida, temporarily halted gun sales in the city, using riots as an excuse. Mayor Keith James’ emergency declaration temporarily ended all sales of guns and ammunition by dealers and private citizens. His declaration also outlawed legal concealed carry in the city, right when residents most need to protect themselves and their families.
Contrast that action to recent efforts in Kansas, a state with mostly pro-gun legislators who were concerned with what they were seeing happen to the rights of law-abiding gun owners in some parts of the country. As the last act of the state’s recent special session, lawmakers passed an Emergency Powers measure that bolsters the right to keep and bear arms, rather than gutting it.
The measure, House Bill 2054, prevents the governor from using emergency powers to seize ammunition or to limit the sale of firearms during a declared state of emergency, including for COVID-19. The legislation also bars the governor from commandeering private property or controlling the movement of people within the disaster zone, which encompasses the entire state.
“I am not comfortable turning over blanket authority to any governor, I don’t care who is in office,” Republican Sen. Caryn Tyson, who led the addition of several limitations, told The Wichita Eagle.
As local and state politicians throughout the country continue to figure out how to deal with the emergency situations we face today, they’d be wise to use Kansas as an example, not West Palm Beach. Respecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners is never the wrong thing to do, regardless of the amount or kind of peril involved.
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for the past 20 years.