House Bill Would Exempt Some Kansas-Made Guns From Federal Regulations

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Some Kansas lawmakers want to stay a step ahead of any new federal gun laws or regulations by reintroducing a bill that would exempt some Kansas-built firearms and accessories from any federal regulation.

House Bill 2199, known as the Second Amendment Protection Act, is seen by some as a declaration of states' rights. It is seen by others, including a Wichita firearms manufacturer, as politics as usual.

"Right now you're seeing a knee-jerk reaction on all sides," said Marlon Knapp, owner of Knapp Weaponry.

Knapp, who manufactures firearms parts, sells guns and offers concealed carry training, said that knee-jerk reaction is behind an increase in gun and ammunition sales.

"The ammunition and firearms shortage that we face is a direct result of the fear that the feds immediately instilled in all the gun owners and those who want to be gun owners," he said.

Knapp believes all the attention given to the debate surrounding a push by some federal lawmakers for tighter gun control legislation is behind the reintroduction of House Bill 2199.

The bill calls for personal firearms, firearm accessories or ammunition "manufactured commercially or privately in Kansas and that remains within the borders of Kansas" to be exempt from any federal law or regulation. The bill's provisions do not apply to "other than shotguns, a firearm that discharges two or more projectiles with one activation of the trigger," or to "ammunition with a projectile that explodes...after the projectile leaves the firearm."

Supporters of the bill say it is about much more than guns.

"While the front issue or the visible issue is about guns, the issue behind that is about Second Amendment protections and also 10th Amendment protections," said Rep. Steve Brunk, R-Wichita. He said there will likely be more legislation this session clarifying the state's rights.

Knapp thinks the bill is more about political opportunity than states' rights.

"They've tried it in the past, so this is just their newest opportunity to try to push it through," he said.

Friends University Associate Professor of Political Science Russell Arben Fox also believes the bill's motivations are more political than anything else and that it will have no real legal impact.

"But it will create paperwork for someone," he said. "And that's the sort of thing that I think these folks want to show off."

Fox said the U.S. Supreme Court has sided with states in previous Second Amendment-related cases.

"For a state to claim for itself a defense of a Second Amendment that has already been interpreted to give the state the power to create its own schemes of enforcement is really kind of ridiculous," he said.

Knapp, the gun shop owner, views House Bill 2199 as a power play between state and national politicians.

"It's the two kids on the playground arguing over whose dad can beat up whose dad," he said.

The bill passed the Kansas House last year, but stalled in the Senate. Its reintroduction has been sent to the House Judiciary Committee.

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