Reactions mixed to Overland Park's new open carry law

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - Overland Park's police chief said a state law has left them with little choice. Starting October 2, the city will allow people more freedom than ever before with their guns.

With a vote of 11-1 Monday night, the city council approved an open carry ordinance, which allows people to publicly carry secure firearms in a holster as long as the safety is activated.

Police Chief John Douglass said there has been a lot of angry backlash from residents, but added the ordinance is necessary because of a 2007 vote in the Kansas Legislature.

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The Kansas Attorney General recently found Wichita's gun provision out of line with the state's law, so that city made a change. Douglass said Overland Park's ordinance is almost the same as Wichita's former rule, so council members decided for a revision.

"As a police chief, this would not have been my recommendation without the state legislation taking place," said Douglass.

He said the open carry ordinance gives more freedom than concealed weapons rules.

"There are no provisions in state law for licensing or training or permits in any way," Douglass said, adding that anyone meeting federal gun regulations is allowed to carry.

The ordinance is drawing mixed reaction from the public.

Excell Gray, Jr., likes to fish and play with his sons at South Lake. He worries the ordinance will make it less family friendly.

"I own firearms myself, but I choose not to carry them because I don't want my sons carrying guns," he said.

Reggie Hernandez believes it can be a positive change.

"It's a good law if you don't abuse it. Because the way things are now people have to protect their property, they have to protect themselves," Hernandez said.

The ordinance allows businesses to ban firearms. They will have to display an official sign at the entrance.

Guns are also banned from any city-owned buildings.

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