Lawsuit filed in Johnson County over open carry dispute

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. - The gun battle is firing up between the city of Prairie Village and a gun rights group called Johnson County Open Carry.

Group President, Michael Kerner, said most of the members are associated with the Libertarian Party of Kansas and said his primary goal is to, "Live free."

He went on to say, "I want to make sure my children and grandchildren get to live free after I'm gone."

Monday the group filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Prairie Village in Johnson County District Court for violating the rights of its citizens.  

The suit named Kansas State Statute 12-16, 124 which reads in part, "No city or county shall adopt any ordinance, resolution or regulation, and no agent of any city or county shall take any administrative action, governing the purchase, transfer, ownership, storage or transporting of firearms or ammunition, or any component or combination thereof."

But the city of Prairie Village enacted its own city ordinance that prohibits the carry of open firearms.

Kerner believes the city does not have the authority to override a state law.

"People have the right to defend themselves and cannot depend on the police to defend you," said Kerner.

Capt. Wes Lovett with the Prairie Village Police Department said that ordinance was signed off on since 2004.

"I think it's a concern for many law enforcement officers. The less people you have that are armed on the street, the safer we are," said Lovett.

The group filed similar lawsuits in December of 2012 in Kansas City, Lenexa, Prairie Village and Leawood.

Since then, The Libertarian Party of Kansa has also challenged a similar law in Lenexa, but that has since been resolved and now citizens there can open carry firearms.

Kerner said the group tried to get special permit to have an open carry picnic in June but told 41 Action News Monday that the permit was denied. He went on to say that the original law suit was thrown out because the group did not have standing.

Monday's suit was filed by a resident of Prairie Village and a member of the Johnson County Open Carry, Grant Nelson. He was not available for comment at the time of this story.   

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