Assistant AG's concerns on gun bill draws rebuttal

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The chief sponsor of a measure to put federal agents in prison for attempting to enforce federal gun restrictions in Kansas alleges an assistant state attorney general was trying to cut his legislation when he testified about it.

Assistant Attorney General Charles Klebe, who is responsible for licensing concealed carry guns, expressed legal concerns about House Bill 2199, known as the Second Amendment Protection Act, in written testimony, the Lawrence Journal-World (http://bit.ly/YrObOG) reported.

Under the bill, any personal firearm, accessory or ammunition that is owned or manufactured in Kansas and stays in the state would not be subject to federal law. Any federal authorities trying to enforce any kind of rule on such a firearm would face possible prison time.

It also would prohibit doctors, but not psychiatrists, from asking whether a patient owns a gun.

"To state the obvious, the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution cannot be waived by state law, and any conflict between a valid federal law and a state law will be resolved by the courts in favor of the federal enactment," Klebe said.

He said Kansas officers could face obstruction of justice charges if they tried to prevent federal authorities from enforcing federal gun laws, Klebe said, and the prohibition on doctors asking questions about a patient's gun ownership raises First Amendment questions about a physician's right to free speech.

A fiscal note attached to the bill estimates the measure would result in multiple lawsuits and could cost the state $825,000 over the next three years in legal costs.

"The cases would probably have to be outsourced and if the state lost the litigation, it would be ordered to pay the attorneys' fees of the prevailing party," the fiscal note said.

Rep. John Rubin, a Shawnee Republican, is a lawyer and the bill's main sponsor. He called Klebe's assessment "frankly, dead wrong."

"The Supremacy Clause does not apply to federal laws, regulations or orders that are unconstitutional," Rubin said.

He said Klebe's suggestions would make the bill, with 50 legislative sponsors and written with the help of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, meaningless.

Jerry Slaughter, executive director of the Kansas Medical Society, testified against the provision that would prevent physicians from asking patients about weapons. He said doctors sometimes seek information about guns at home as a safety precaution when treating patients who may be depressed or taking medications.

Slaughter tried to assure committee members that under the federal Affordable Care Act, there was no requirement that a physician ask a patient about guns, or that the patient would be required to answer.

Rubin and several committee members said they were suspicious that President Barack Obama would issue an executive order requiring physicians to request that information.

Rubin said the measure would prevent any gun owned or produced in Kansas and remaining in the state from being controlled by "any past, present or future federal law, rule or regulation of any kind."

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Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com

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