OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — It’s official. Overland Park residents can now pack heat, openly, in the city. The city council voting 11 to 1 Monday.
City leaders said they were forced to change the ordinance to come into compliance with an opinion by the Kansas attorney general. But the decision didn’t come without debate. Council members went back and forth on what one called a charged issue.
The ordinance said an individual is allowed to openly carry a handgun on public property as long as he or she legally obtained it. But they must keep it in a holster with a safety engaged and must keep their weapon in their control at all times.
City leaders said public buildings can prohibit open carry as it has a gun buster sign posted.
The city passed an ordinance prohibiting the open carry of firearms in 2007. That happened before the Kansas legislature passed a statute that same year saying cities could not prohibit open carry.
An attorney for the city said the city would’ve had to settle this in court eventually if they went another direction.
Council member Paul Lyons was the only one who voted down the ordinance.
“I recognize the fact that we’re doing this because the legislature is putting us into this position, but in my view, we better put this on our legislative agenda, to take forward to the state legislature to say, ‘We don’t like this,'” he said.
Lyons said the city is safe, and residents don’t need to openly carry. He also thinks open carry would intimidate other residents.
David White, another city council member said he understood Lyon’s standpoint, but that he was a realist.
“We’re trying to make sure we don’t spend our taxpayers money defending a law suit, brought by the attorney general of trying to strike down our statutes,” White said.
Police Chief John Douglass said this won’t impact officers jobs tremendously.
“I don’t think it’ll change much because it’s not a concealed carry, it’s an open carry and frankly given the choice of the two, open carry is probably less dangerous because we know what we’re dealing with,” Douglass said.
Chief Douglass was asked a lot of what-if scenarios, like openly carrying at a park or soccer game.
The chief said while he has some pause on many scenarios, he told council members he thinks this is the best decision moving forward for the city.