Attorney General Forum Held Here Tuesday

C.W. Clevy, Attorney for the Kansas Attorney General's Office in Topeka, met Tuesday noon with officials from the six counties that comprise the 12th Judicial District, which includes Mitchell, Cloud, Jewell, Lincoln, Republic and Washington Counties. All of these counties are under the jurisdiction of the Honorable Kim Cudney, Chief Judge of the 12th Judicial District of Kansas.

Attorney Clevy, whose main responsibility in the Attorney General's office is as head of the Fire Arms Division of that office, was here to try to "shed some light" on the Concealed Carry Act also known as the Family Protection Act. This is the hot topic among the officials of the district as they try to understand just what is required of them to legally conform to the mandates imposed in this act.

Also, present at the forum, held at the North Central Regional Planning Commission meeting room, were Kansas Senator Elaine Bowers, representing the 36th District of the State of Kansas and State Representative, Susan Concannon, representing the 107th District of the State of Kansas. Mitchell County Commissioners Tom Claussen and Jim Marshall were also present at the meeting and took part in the discussion.

Many of those attending had questions as to what the Concealed Carry Law entails and wanted clarity as to how they could meet the requirements for their particular situation. They admitted there are many stipulations in the law that they do not understand and have no idea how to meet the criteria required. They expressed a desire to comply with the law but had conflicting information as to how they can do this. Law officers expressed their concern about the ramifications this would have on their departments and county jails as a whole.

Concerns of how their plan would hold up and if it would be considered "sufficient" if there was a shooting incident in their courthouse or other public building. Many expressed concern about their counties being liable for not taking enough precautions to keep this incident from happening. Being sued was also an issue they had questions about.

Attorney Clevy admitted that due to the different circumstances and situations each county faces there are no set rules to follow. One point he made is that at this time the county cannot designate certain parts of the building as in one floor or a certain area. He admitted there are conflicting definitions in the bill and wording that needs to be changed to clarify the meaning. He is hoping the State Legislature will address some of these issues in their upcoming session and they may be tweaking the law every year, he added.

The District Judge has the authority to make the decision as to whether to prohibit concealed carry in her courtroom, how much security she wants when in session and what areas she wants included in her ruling. All judges may not make the same rulings but this is their call, he said.

Some of the counties involved took the option to opt out for the first six months but now they have to make a decision as to what they plan to do by January 1. Clevy said each county has to come up with a plan as to what they will do to obtain this goal. The plan needs to explain what they are going to do to meet this goal and how they are going to implement the terms of their plan. It also needs a legal description of the building or buildings involved in the plan. The plans will not be sent in to the Attorney Generals Office but the counties will have to have them on hand to explain if that action is needed.

Attorney Clevy said those present raised valid points and made some valid suggestions. Both Senator Bowers and Representative Concannan stressed they will try to express their constituents concerns as to the conflicting issues in the bill and work to try to get answers to the questions ask at the meeting yesterday noon.

By the end of the meeting it was the general conscientious that many of the counties present would opt for the four year exemption, remove their signage and hopefully give the State Legislature time to tweak the language of this bill to better clarify what officials are supposed to do to comply with it's ruling.

Attorney Clevy said, "Many questions and suggestions that were expressed in this meeting have merit. Right now it is a balancing act as to what needs to be done. Stay tuned to our website to keep up on any changes that are made. It is a delicate dance that all of this will play out with each other. I don't have a lot of answers to your questions right now. I appreciate your patience but this is just the nature of where we are with this right now," Attorney Clevy said.

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