Kansas bill voids local gun control laws

I first caught wind of this news over at Townhall, and I confess it leaves me with a couple of questions. First, the apparently good news.

Kansas legislators gave final approval Saturday to a bill that would nullify city and county gun restrictions and ensure that it’s legal across the state to openly carry firearms, a measure the National Rifle Association sees as a nationwide model for stripping local officials of their gun-regulating power.

The House approved the legislation, 102-19, a day after the Senate passed it, 37-2. The measure goes next to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. He hasn’t said whether he’ll sign it, but he’s a strong supporter of gun rights and has signed other measures backed by the NRA and the Kansas State Rifle Association.

Kansas law doesn’t expressly forbid the open carrying of firearms, and the attorney general’s office has in the past told local officials that some restrictions are allowed. The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., has prohibited the practice, but the bill would sweep any such ban away, except to allow cities and counties to prevent openly carried weapons inside public buildings.

So you want to ensure that everyone has the right to open carry. Got it. And well done for you on that one.

But as I said, this raises some questions for the layman which we definitely will want some lawyers to weigh in on. This probably isn’t an excursion into a completely new field of law, but it’s got to be a comparatively obscure one. You see, I’ve always labored under the perhaps mistaken impression that in an organized societal legal system, everything is legal until you begin passing laws to prohibit particular actions. And in theory, you can pass a law against nearly any activity, providing that activity is not a protected right enshrined in either the federal or state constitution. With that preface stated, I can’t recall a previous case of a government body passing a law to expressly make something legal, seeking to overrule existing rules or prevent future ones at a lower level prohibiting said action.

It seems as if, in order to accomplish what Kansas is ostensibly doing here, you’d want to approve an expanded version of the Second Amendment to the state constitution, assuring the right of everyone to open carry except in public buildings. Of course, I’m probably missing something obvious here, but as I’ve repeatedly said, I’m not an attorney. Can they actually do this? And if so, how would one challenge this law in court, assuming you disagreed with it? It’s hard to imagine running this all the way up the chain to the Supreme Court and saying, hey… they can’t make that legal!