Tomorrow is election day in Kansas, the place Sam Brownback is using to test-drive every conservative policy proposal he can think of, facts be damned. As I noted last year, when Mitt Romney had to burnish his conservative credentials, it was at Brownback’s feet he bowed when he chose Paul Ryan to be his VP candidate — Ryan, whose last job before becoming a member of Congress was as Brownback’s legislative director. Pick an issue, lay out the most conservative policy prescription you can think of, and the GOP in Brownbackistan will find something even further to the right to enact.
Chief among Brownback’s minions, and the guy who desperately wants Brownback’s job when Brownback announces he’s running for president in 2016*, is Kris Kobach. Kobach is an alumnus of the Ashcroft DOJ, and first made waves nationally as the principal author of Arizona’s anti-immigration laws that were struck down by SCOTUS. Since then, he was elected the Kansas Secretary of State, going after the plague of vote fraud that wasn’t sweeping the state with new state ID laws, ramping up the pressure on anyone who even thinks of getting an abortion, and generally trying to make himself look like The Next True Conservative Leader behind Brownback.
Now he’s latched on to another conservative issue, hoping to win more friends in the conservative coalition in addition to the anti-abortion, anti-immigrant crowds who love him already. That issue? Guns.
Kansas has an open carry law, which says (generally speaking) that almost all public buildings must allow people to openly carry weapons as they embrace their Second Amendment right to self-defense. Only if a building has security in place similar to the TSA screenings at airports can that building declare itself to be a no-carry location. Various cities are unhappy about this, but are similarly unhappy about the prospects of (a) having to spend lots of money they don’t have to upgrade and install security on lots of public buildings, or (b) having to spend lots of money they don’t have defending themselves from lawsuits if they challenge the law.
So what could possibly go wrong with this scenario?:
The next time you vote in a Kansas election, the person next to you at the polling place may be packing a pistol.
It depends on how state Attorney General Derek Schmidt rules on a request for a legal opinion that has been filed by the state’s chief election officer, Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
The argument here is this: Because churches, schools, and other places open their doors to the state to serve as polling places, that makes them public property for the day, and thus overrides their own “no guns here” policies. That’s sure to go over well with a fair number of the pastors and parishes I know in Kansas.
I’m trying to imagine the reaction if a couple of members of the New Black Panthers were to show up at a KS polling place with legal weapons carried openly. The right wing would leap to their defense, wouldn’t they?
Or, you know, not.
But my favorite part of the article at the link is the photograph the Wichita Eagle used of voting machines set up at Reformation Lutheran Church in an earlier election. As everyone in Wichita knows, Reformation is the church where George Tiller was gunned down while serving as an usher one Sunday morning in 2009. Using an image of that church is a not-so-veiled — and well-deserved — slam at Kobach and the gun rights fetishists.