TOPEKA, Kan. (CN) - The Kansas Senate has approved legislation that would allow gun owners to carry concealed handguns without a permit.
Senate Bill 45 , approved by 31-7 vote on Feb. 26, has been sent to the state House.
Kansans can already carry an unconcealed firearm without a permit. Senate Bill 45 would eliminate the permit process to carry a concealed gun. For a permit today, applicants most submit to a state and national background check and complete an approved handgun safety and training course.
Under SB 45, concealed carry licenses would still be issued by the state, if a gun owner applies, but carrying handguns without a license, openly or concealed, loaded or unloaded, would be legal.
If SB 45 becomes law, Kansas will become the fifth state to allow concealed carry without a permit, joining Arizona, Alaska, Vermont and Wyoming.
Proponents claim the Constitution gives gun owners all the permission they need to carry concealed weapons.
Opponents say the permit process keeps concealed weapons out of the hands of people with a criminal or violent past.
"It's unfortunate to see this ill-conceived bill moving forward," said Brian Malte, national policy director for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
"Allowing anybody to carry a loaded gun in public without first getting a background check or training is a recipe for injury or worse. The permit process screens out prohibited and dangerous people not legally able to carry guns, and that helps keeps our public places safer," Malte said.
Kansas residents have to undergo a background check to buy a gun, and forcing them to submit to another one for a concealed carry permit is redundant, Patricia Stoneking, president of the Kansas State Rifle Association, told Courthouse News.
"Criminals are criminals by virtue of the fact they don't care what the law says," Stoneking said. "Prohibitive laws only affect law-abiding citizens that wish to exercise their natural right, a right they are born with, to defend themselves and their families.
"Gun owners in Kansas are responsible individuals and have proven that over the years. There is no blood running in the street as the anti-Second Amendment Brady Campaign touted," Stoneking said. She said that responsible gun owners seek out training, but that "personal responsibility should not be a government mandate."