Recent Kansas editorials
The Topeka Capital-Journal, July 5
Lesser concealed carry fee wise move by Kansas Legislature
As July began, Kansas lowered the costs of a state concealed carry license. Those wishing to purchase a license will now pay $112, instead of the $132.50 they had to fork over earlier.
This was a good move by the Kansas Legislature, and an offer that responsible gun owners in the state should consider.
Let’s remember that Kansas is a “constitutional carry” state, where anyone 21 and older can carry a concealed firearm without a permit. Whatever one’s feelings about this law, it certainly suggests that some people carrying around concealed weapons are doing so without registering or receiving any firearms education.
That’s precisely what the concealed carry permit process allows. According to the state attorney general’s office, applicants “must complete an 8-hour weapons safety and training course and obtain a certificate of completion from a certified trainer,” as well as submitting an application with a photo, as well as being fingerprinted by the county sheriff.
All of these are eminently sensible requirements for someone who wants to take the responsibility of carrying a concealed weapon.
Reducing barriers for those who want to carry such permits just makes sense.
The Second Amendment can be a tricky thing. If one assumes it allows the carrying of firearms by individuals for self defense (the Supreme Court first interpreted the Constitution as saying so in District of Columbia v. Heller, a 5-4 ruling from 2008), then one also must accept the gravity of carrying a lethal weapon.
Too often, the accumulation of firearms is treated like a social statement, a rebellion against our government or easy way to inflame liberal agita on social media. But unlike crimson Make America Great Again hats, Trump-Pence bumper stickers or Confederate flags, guns kill.
Treated carelessly, left unsecured around the house or forgotten about, firearms too often exact a deadly toll from those not willing to reckon with their raw, destructive power. They can be used for suicides or misused in fatal accidents.
Indeed, that power is perhaps a reason the right to bear arms is protected in the Constitution in the first place.
With July 4 only a couple of days passed, perhaps now is the perfect time to urge Kansas gun owners, one and all, to apply for a concealed carry. Get educated about your weapons. Make sure law enforcement knows who you are — especially valuable if your weapon is stolen and used by someone else.
Be responsible with the precious freedoms we’ve all been granted.
The Lawrence Journal-World, July 6
City Should Release Report
Lawrence city commissioners should act quickly to arrange for the public release of a survey conducted last year to assess community perceptions of local police.
After all, a consultant, paid $20,000 to conduct the survey, said she completed the work months ago and provided a final report to the city.
The survey, conducted last summer by Allegro Training and Consulting, asked Lawrence residents to assess their interactions with local police, including appropriate use of force, existence of bias and handling of complaints. Beth Clark, CEO of Allegro, told the Kansas City Star that said she sent her final report to the city in April. “There’s no reason it can’t be put out to the public,” Clark said. “It’s completely done.”
But when the Journal-World last week asked city spokesman Porter Arneill for the survey results, Arneill indicated Clark and the city aren’t on the same page.
“The study information is not yet considered to be a final report from the consultant,” Arneill said. “The city continues working with the consultant to finalize the report and it is anticipated that the report will be presented to the City Commission at a future date.”
The City of Lawrence commissioned Allegro to conduct the survey and compile her report in July 2017. A city memo at the time said Allegro would present summary survey results at a future City Commission meeting and that the summary information “will be readily available in several public formats.”
The anonymous survey asked respondents about themselves — including their race, gender, sexual orientation, income and other characteristics — and about their interactions with the Lawrence police department. The survey included more than 30 questions.
For example, the survey asks whether the police department is biased against certain groups of people, whether complaints made to the police are “taken seriously and acted on quickly,” and what practices need to be in place for the police department to serve and protect Lawrence residents. Practices that residents could select included body cameras, data collection from traffic stops, anti-bias training and tactical training on topics such as responsible use of force.
It isn’t clear why the city is reluctant to make the survey public when the consultant said she gave her final report to the city months ago. The delay in releasing it might foster the perception that the city is not pleased with the report’s results and that it may not want the public to see them. Or the city might have a legitimate issue with how the report was completed. But as long as the city fails to provide a reasonable explanation for the delay, the information void is going to fill with speculation.
The city sought the survey, worked with the consultant on the questions to ask and paid $20,000 in public funds for the resulting report. It’s time to make publicly available not just a summary but also the full original survey and report. The Lawrence City Commission should act with haste to ensure that happens. Anything less will be an affront to transparency and open government.
The Kansas City Star, July 5
A good bet: Kansas and Missouri should get ready to offer sports gambling
Legislators in Kansas and Missouri are taking a hard look this summer at how their states might offer sports gambling.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court authorized states to allow such wagering. The decision came too late for Kansas or Missouri lawmakers to act in 2018, but gambling supporters want to be ready when legislators reconvene in January.
The discussions in both states are encouraging and necessary. Legalized sports gambling could provide the states with millions of dollars for needed programs or tax relief for lower-income workers. Legislators should spend the summer recess studying the issues involved.
Different models for state-based sports gambling are now emerging. Without a thorough review — and the proper framework — the debate over sports gaming could get bogged down next year, slowing progress and costing the state revenue.
The specifics of sports gambling in Kansas and Missouri will be worked out in the months ahead. At the same time, there are concepts both states should embrace as they put together their sports gambling legislation.
The states should regulate sports gambling, but they should not provide it. Lotteries are generally state-owned and operated; by contrast, most casinos are private companies licensed by the state (Kansas is an exception: It owns the state’s non-Native American casinos.)
Neither state should offer sports gambling directly. State administrators lack expertise in sports wagering, and the state shouldn’t be in that business anyway. Let private companies take the bets.
At the same time, both states must have strict oversight of sports gaming, including programs for those struggling with gambling addiction. The states may also wish to consider some regulatory limit on how much money a gambler can wager on any one sporting event.
And, of course, both states should tax sports gambling. Nevada, which allows sports wagering, collects a 6.75 percent tax on most gross gaming revenue. In New Jersey, it’s 8.5 percent for in-person sports betting. West Virginia wants to levy a 10 percent tax on sports gaming.
Kansas and Missouri may want to charge more than that for sports bets — but not too much more, or gaming operators will avoid our states.
Sports gambling facilities should be limited, but not just to casinos. Neither state wants a legal sports book on every corner. But limiting gaming to existing casinos will make it harder for some bettors to gamble, reducing state revenue. Lawmakers will need to fully understand this issue.
One answer might be online wagering. Betting online is a complicated issue, and it could escalate gambling addiction. But other states will offer it. That could cut into the state’s take.
Sports leagues should not expect a windfall from gambling. Some leagues are already pressuring states to set aside some money for teams. Kansas and Missouri should resist anything other than a token payment — teams and players make plenty of money.
Other states are moving forward with sports gambling. It’s possible Congress will inject itself into this discussion, further complicating the issue.
These developments, and others, suggest Kansas and Missouri should move as quickly as possible in 2019 to begin sports gaming. That means reaching some consensus this year on how sports gambling would work.