Rachel Whitten | KansasReporter.org
TOPEKA—A refined definition of the right to bear arms in Kansas,
and a measure taking away the legislature’s ability to keep
the mentally ill from voting will be up for Kansans to decide on
The two proposed Kansas constitutional amendments are the first
since 2005, when voters approved a legal definition of marriage.
Constitutional amendment question number one clarifies an individual’s
right to bear arms.
In the current Kansas law, when it states “the people have
the right to bear arms for their defense and security,” the
“people” is defined as people as a group, referring
to a militia according to Kansas Supreme Court case from 1905. The
new definition redefines the law to mean individuals, not a collected
group. The proposed amendment says “a person has the right
to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and
state, for lawful hunting and recreational use, and for any other
“It’s just making certain we have an individual, not
a collective right to gun ownership in Kansas,” said state
Sen. Tim Huelskamp, a Republican from Fowler, who spearheaded
the measure in the Senate during the 2009 session, along with state
Sen. Mike Peterson, a Republican from Wichita.
Constitutional amendment question number two deals with an old,
never used provision of the Kansas Constitution that gives the state
legislature the ability to vote to keep mentally ill people from
“The legislature has never enacted anything that would deprive
people with a mental illness of voting,” said state Sen. Tim
Owens, a Republican from Overland Park. “It’s in the
Constitution that they can, but they haven’t ever done it.
People are just concerned ‘what if they did?’ It’s
a preemptory kind of a thing.”
The issue arose during the 2010 session, starting in the Senate
Judiciary Committee, of which Owens is the chair. Advocates for
the mentally ill and mentally disabled brought the law’s provision
to the attention of the committee and spoke out against the legislature’s
ability to keep mentally ill people from voting.
“There were a number of people in the [mental health] industry
… who had come and said that was really inappropriate,”
Owens said. “There are a lot of people who have had diagnoses
of mental illness who are perfectly fine on medication and they
shouldn’t be deprived of their right.”
Although Owens said he hopes voters approve the measure, he said
not much will change if they don’t.
“It’s one of those things where if it passes that’s
great, if it doesn’t pass, you look at the historical perspective
and see the legislature has never done anything with it anyway,”
The amendments appear on Page 7B of today’s Herald-Chronicle,
exactly as they will on the Nov. 2 ballot.
In addition to the two amendment questions, Osage County voters
will see the following races on their ballots:
• United States Senate – (D) Lisa Johnston, (R) Jerry
Moran, (L) Michael Dann, (Ref.) Joseph K. Bellis.
• United States House of Representatives – (D) Cheryl
Hudspeth, (R) Lynn Jenkins, (L) Robert Garrard.
• Governor/Lieutenant Governor – (D) Tom Holland/Kelly
Kultala, (R) Sam Brownback/Jeff Colyer, (L) Andrew Gray/Stacey Davis,
(Ref.) Ken Cannon/Daniel Faubion.
• Secretary of State – (D) Chris Biggs, (R) Kris Kobach,
(L) Phillip Horatio Lucas, (Ref.) Derek Langseth.
• Attorney General – (D) Steve Six, (R) Derek Schmidt,
(L) Dennis Hawver.
• State Treasurer – (D) Dennis McKinney, (R) Ron Estes.
• Commissioner of Insurance – (R) Sandy Praeger.
• Kansas House of Representatives, 59th District – (D)
Blossom Barth, (R) William Prescott.
• Supreme Court Justice – Carol Beier, Dan Biles, Lawton
Nuss, Marla Luckert.
• Court of Appeals Judge – Stephen Hill, Patrick McAnany,
Nancy Caplinger, Henry Green Jr., Tom Malone, Michael Buser, Melissa
• District Court Judge – Phillip Fromme.
Voters in some areas of Osage County will see the following races:
• State Board of Educations, 9th District – (D) Robert
Medford, (R) Jana Shaver.
• Kansas Senate, 17th District – (D) Jerry Karr, (R)
• County Commissioner – (R) Carl Meyer.
The names of township clerk candidates will appear on ballots in
their respective areas.