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New Kansas gun law affects employers and premises owners

ABSTRACT: Recently enacted Kansas law changes the rules for business owners who wish to restrict firearms on their premises.

Many of our clients have concerns with Kansas’s recent gun bill (HB2578) and what private businesses can/must do to prevent open or concealed firearms carried into their business premises in Kansas.  The new Kansas gun law eliminated the local municipalities’ gun control measures and made it legal to open carry firearms in the State of Kansas. However, under this bill, each business owner has the right to restrict access to his business for someone who is either openly carrying or concealing a firearm. A business owner who wants to restrict access to his stores needs to use the signs located on the AG’s website.

The signs are to be conspicuously posted at each entrance, at eye level and not more than 12 inches to the right or left of entrance. If a patron violates a business owner ‘s gun policy, the new bill allows the business owner  to deny access to its business or remove the person from the premises. However, within the bill there are no specific criminal charges for someone violating a business owner’s  policy on open carry/concealed carry. Rather, if someone were to refuse to leave the premises the business owner can request that the person be charged with criminal trespass or other related misdemeanors.

This is a new gun bill for the State of Kansas. It generally broadens gun rights in the State (especially in Kansas City, KS), but it does codify a restriction of the open carry rights that some Kansas gun-rights supporters are unhappy about. Accordingly, a constitutional challenge to this restriction may be forthcoming.

There is some gray area as it relates to the signage requirement when dealing with employees. The Kansas AG’s office states that this has been a source of numerous questions, but did not have an official answer to the problem. The new law does not specifically address an employer’s right to restrict access of its employees from carrying a firearm during work. However, there is a provision within the Kansas Conceal and Carry Law that may be helpful. According to K.S.A 2014 Supp. 75-7c10(b), “Nothing in this act shall be construed to prevent: (1) Any public or private employer from restricting or prohibiting by personnel policies persons licensed under this act from carrying a concealed handgun while on the premises of the employer’s business or while engaged in the duties of the person’s employment by the employer, except that no employer may prohibit possession of a handgun in a private means of conveyance, even if parked on the employer’s premise.”  This appears to be the best provision to rely on when enforcing a policy prohibiting employees’ firearms in the workplace.

As this is a new law, the interpretation of the law remains a gray area and is evolving.