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Kansas Firearms Businesses Want Protection From Discrimination

Stephen Koranda

A bill before a Kansas Senate committee would protect firearms businesses from discrimination. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, a hearing on the bill also brought out other groups seeking protection.

Trevor Santos, with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, says firearms businesses can be the victims of discrimination. He used the example of a shooting range owner in Olathe who tried to insure a new vehicle.

“His insurance company said, ‘We will not insure your vehicle because you’re involved in the firearms industry.’ Giving no other reason, solely because you’re involved in the lawful commerce of firearms and ammunition,” he says.

Some others said if lawmakers add protections for those businesses, they should also add protections for other groups.

“We really see an opportunity here to talk about discrimination against another group of folks in Kansas who provide a constitutionally protected service, that of abortion services,” says Elise Higgins with Planned Parenthood.

Tom Witt, with the group Equality Kansas, says it would be unprecedented to add an industry to the state’s discrimination law. He says if you’re going to do that, other groups like LGBT Kansans should also be protected from discrimination.

“Let’s get serious about protecting people’s constitutional rights. If we’re talking about protecting morally disfavored activities and industries, there’s no reason not to talk about these other issues as well,” Witt says.

The chairman of the committee, Republican Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer, says he doesn’t want to add additional protections to the bill beyond firearms businesses.

The League of Kansas Municipalities says the bill is broadly written and would expose cities to lawsuits.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and High Plains Radio covering health, education and politics.