Packing Heat in the Library

jccrcI had a meeting the other day in a Kansas public library building. For the first time I had to worry about whether the other patrons and librarians had guns in their backpacks and book bags.

Before mid-2013, Kansas banned concealed weapons in courthouses, state offices, and other public buildings. The library I patronize had a sign at the entrance announcing that weapons were prohibited inside.

But the Kansas state legislature, in its infinite wisdom, passed a law in mid-2013 requiring that concealed weapons be allowed in public buildings. The library received an exemption for six months, but that exemption expired on January 1, 2014.

Now, my library had to allow patrons to bring in concealed weapons, unless the library could develop “adequate security measures,” meaning metal detectors and security personnel at the entrances. Since the costs to secure a building can run from $300,000 to $800,000, most public facilities in Kansas such as libraries will be allowing concealed weapons.

In essence, Kansas law now requires that unless a public entity can insure that no one is packing heat, it cannot prohibit law-abiding citizens from carrying a concealed weapon.

Most readers of this blog know that I am generally conservative on most issues. But it just seems wrong to allow concealed weapons in a library.

Libraries are places of learning, of discovery. Children should be free to roam and explore in libraries They should be able to escape from their daily lives in the worlds they find in books. They shouldn’t have to worry about who is hiding what in their pocket.

And neither should I.

Weapons have no place next to books, in my mind.

I understand the Second Amendment arguments about “a citizen’s right to bear arms” not being abridged. However, it seems an antiquated provision in today’s urban society.

I also understand that there are—and should be—limits on what statutory and regulatory limits can be placed on constitutional rights, particularly those enumerated in the Bill of Rights. Citizens who don’t like the Second Amendment, or who think it should have limits, should seek to change it rather than thwart it.

Of course, the political realities are such that changing the Second Amendment is unlikely.

So unless the political winds change, I’ll be sure to keep quiet in the library.

What do you think about concealed weapons in libraries?



Filed under Law, Politics

6 responses to “Packing Heat in the Library

  1. I’m confused by your concern.
    It seems like prior to the change in the law the only people who would be carrying firearms in the library would have been the criminals/thugs, right?

    Nothing stopped criminals from breaking the law; no metal detectors, no x-ray machines, no pat downs, right? So maybe you had to worry about it before but just don’t think of it in those terms.

    Now, you are concerned about people who go through the trouble of obtaining a license, carrying according to the law?

    Doesn’t make sense?

    I agree with you what libraries should be…and they are. But they can only stay those things if the people will make sure it happens.

    However, it seems an antiquated provision in today’s urban society.

    Tell that to the women who have been stalked, the women who have been raped or robbed as they come and go from public buildings.
    Tell it to the parents escorting their kids; kids have been snatched from public buildings.
    Tell it to the people who run half a dozen errands while they are out and about — including a stop at a public library.

    Crime can and does happen everywhere. The statistics are decreasing (amazingly enough at the same time more people are carrying — HMMM?) but the stakes of being a victim are just as high as ever.

    I don’t know about Kansas, but my state Texas, tracks convictions of those with a concealed carry license. Last reported year (2011) 0.18% — less than Two Tenths of all convictions were from those who had a license to carry. AT no time since the license started has that conviction rate been above half a percent.

    Think about that for a minute — 99.5 percent of all convictions in that highest year or 99.8% for 2011 where NON licensed people.

    Who would you rather have in your library?

  2. Patrick Shipwash

    Hello Sara. I read you blogs because their business-related content have value. I was a little surprised to see this latest comment, primarily because it seemed to take a different direction. I’ve never before posted a reply to a blog entry, but I feel compelled to do so today.

    I, too, love libraries. I’ve spent so many hours in libraries across the U.S., either in my undergraduate or graduate studies, or doing research, or just enjoying quiet contemplation. I sense that in some ways, you and I may also both see libraries as refuges. I, too, think libraries should be spaces safe from people with bad intent.

    About a year ago, I was in an office building when a man carrying a semiautomatic pistol entered, killed three managers, grievously wounded another manager, and then killed himself. In this horrible incident, the shooter wounded the first victim, killed the second two, and then returned to the first person and shot him dead.

    While we were waiting for the police to release us from the scene, I kept wondering whether I could have done anything to stop the killing. Because I once carried a pistol as part of my job, I am trained and proficient with handguns, and I own one. But the incident took place in a “gun free zone,” situated in a state where it is notoriously difficult to obtain a carry permit. I was unarmed that day.

    I have since retired and have returned to the state where I was born and raised. It is a somewhat rural area, where most people know one another. A month or two after I came home, a man walked into a drugstore and shot and killed three people in an attempt to obtain drugs. I was in that drugstore just the day before.

    I’ve taken the classes and qualified on the range, and have obtained a carry permit. When I leave home, I am armed. Although I absolutely do not want to ever be in a situation in which someone with bad intent uses a firearm in an attempt to kill or seriously injure someone, I am unwilling to find myself in such a situation with no chance of altering the outcome.

    Sara, I respect your comments and found them to be reasonable. I understand your discomfort with firearms. But I hope you see my comments as being reasonable and, more importantly, I hope you realize that people like me are not the ones who should cause you a second thought. I am not a member of the NRA, I spend no more time discussing the Second Amendment than I would any other part of the Constitution, nor do I mark my calendar with the date of the next gun show. I just realize the nature of the world we live in.

    • Thank you for your judicious comment. Reasonable people don’t cause me concern. But wherever there are guns, I believe there is a risk of an unreasonable and fatal response. The risk of criminal behavior may be greater, but I prefer to keep guns away from some environments.
      Sara Rickover

  3. Sara,

    But wherever there are guns, I believe there is a risk of an unreasonable and fatal response.

    So you favor disarming the police?

    Probably not is my guess. What Patrick and I are trying to point out is your fear seems not to be directed at the criminals who wouldn’t obey a sign but at the people like us who obey the law.

    Gun free zones don’t work. All but one of the latest mass shootings have been in designated, by law, gun free zones.

    • Clearly, we do not agree on this topic, though as you say, I do not favor disarming the police. (Though I am hesitant when I see policemen with weapons near lots of children.)
      I do appreciate your measured responses on a topic that causes a lot of emotion on both sides.

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