No guns allowed: Signs at Overland Park businesses spark debate

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - The gun debate is hot all across the country, and it's the same in Overland Park where open carrying is legal. At many businesses, their stance is apparent before you even walk in the front door.

The environment inside the Kookiedoodle Crafts studio in downtown Overland Park features plenty of paint and glitter, but no guns.

"It's not welcome here," owner Katie Weiford said. "I don't want anyone with guns."

Weiford said firearms have no place in a crafts studio, which is why she posted a sign banning guns on the front door.

"It makes it harder when we don't know if they're carrying a weapon or not and our children's safety is the first priority," Weiford said.

Pop Culture Comix owner Sid Smith also opposes the open carry ordinance. Smith believes it scares some people, but has purposely not posted an anti-gun sign at his business.

"I think they're absolutely pointless. They keep the good guys out. The good guys are the guys I want in the store," Smith said. "The bad guys, it's not going to keep them out at all."

Loren Stanton, founder of the Guns Violence Prevention Project, agreed.

"If you're a criminal, then certainly that's not going to stop anybody," he said.

But that hasn't stopped Stanton and his group from passing out more than 100 signs to Overland Park businesses. In all, he said 335 businesses have the signs. The count includes all of Oak Park Mall's 185 stores.

Stanton said the signs send a message and stand up for business owners' rights to keep firearms out of their establishments.

Gary Mason with the Overland Park Police Department does not take a side on the signs, but said someone with a gun inside a firearm-free business could be charged with trespassing if they refuse to leave.

"It just flat out does scare some people, and I think there should be consideration and thought given to that," Stanton said.

Overland Park's open carry ordinance has been in effect since October 2, 2012.

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