Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signed a bill into law on Thursday that allows Kansas residents over the age of 21 to carry concealed weapons without any permit or training requirements, “as long as that individual is not prohibited from possessing a firearm under either federal or state law.”
“Responsible gun ownership — for protection and sport — is a right inherent in our Constitution. It is a right that Kansans hold dear and have repeatedly and overwhelmingly reaffirmed a commitment to protecting,” said in a statement on Facebook posted alongside a photo of him signing the bill.
Everytown for Gun Safety expressed their disapproval on Facebook as well. “This bill will let people carry hidden, loaded guns in public with no training whatsoever, and with no permit required,” the statement read. “It’s irresponsible legislation that puts all Kansans in danger.”
The legislation passed with overwhelming support in the statehouse. One state legislator, Rep. Travis Couture-Lovelady, described gun safety training to the Kansas City Star as a “personal responsibility” and “not something the government can mandate.” He pointed out that since the state adopted permits for concealed carry weapons in 2006, “We haven’t had any of the Wild West shootouts.”
The state will still issue concealed permits in the state, but they aren’t required. Residents do still need a Kansas to carry weapons in other states or jurisdictions where they are required. At least five other states and most of Montana also do not require permits to carry concealed weapons, but all 50 states have passed laws allowing citizens to carry firearms in public.
Many pro-gun groups such as the Crime Prevention Research Center have argued that since the rise of concealed carry laws in the states, there has been a decline in violent crime. This ignores the fact that violent crime is on a general downward trend across the country, regardless of whether the states have concealed carry laws or not.
The research on whether conceal carry laws are effective has been mixed and little studied, in part because until recently there has been a ban on federal funding for this type of research. However, a study by the National Research Council found “no link” between right-to-carry concealed weapons laws and violent crime rates in the raw data. However, many point to international data as a guide. In Japan, for example, where almost all forms of gun ownership is illegal, there are single-digit shooting deaths in the country each year.
Another study released by Stanford last year took a new look at this research and did find some ties to allowing weapons without a permit and some types of violence. It was difficult to tie right-to-carry laws to violent crime, but researchers did find an estimated 8 percent increase in aggravated assault cases — and this may actually be an underestimate. Researchers described finding the effect of such laws a “vexing task.”