Welcome to Kansas! Given that this is a presidential election year polling places and demonstrations have received heightened scrutiny by the media as compared to other years.

Because informed decisions are typically the best decisions, I wanted to talk to you about these two.

Carrying at a Polling Station

With respect to firearms in polling places, many of you know, Kansas has the Personal and Family Protection Act that provides for the permitting of concealed carry handguns. Further, Kansas has for some time enjoyed the right of Constitutional Carry of handguns.

With that in mind, let’s look at what Kansas law provides for the carrying of a concealed handgun in election polling places.

The answer is based upon the use of the property other than when it is a polling place. The use of real property as a polling place does not transform the nature of that property for the purposes of carrying concealed handguns in Kansas.

Kansas law does not preclude the carrying of a concealed handgun into a polling place to the extent that it is permitted to be carried into the building when it is not a polling place. However, you would be not be allowed to carry in polling places located in the public areas of State or Municipal buildings with adequate security measures, which means metal detectors and armed guards at all of its public entrances. Incidentally, a public-school district is not a municipality under state law.

Concealed handguns may be carried in a polling place that is located inside a privately-owned building unless the owner or tenant has displayed proper signage according to the rules as developed by the Kansas Attorney General. Then, if requested, you must either not enter or leave immediately, or you may be charged with criminal trespass.

Demonstrations and Protests

But what happens if you encounter a mob of protesters at or near the polling place? In Kansas, it is the law that you have the following rights:

  1. The right to defend yourself and/or another from an aggressor’s imminent use of force with force and deadly force with deadly force (self-defense);
  2. No duty to retreat from an aggressor (stand your ground);
  3. To dissuade or terminate imminent force from an aggressor by displaying or communication deadly force; and
  4. To respond with deadly force based upon the assumption created when someone is attempting to or has illegally entered your occupied home, conveyance or place of work and you know of this illegality.

Knowing your rights, it is implicit that you do not have the right to use force on any protesters simply because they are boisterous or inflammatory in their protest. A self-defense response is limited to the termination or prevention of an eminent application force.

Exercising any one of these rights can set you on a collision course with physical or legal harm or both. Only exercise these rights when necessary, not simply because you can.

Your top priority should be safe avoidance to the extent possible. Remember, that if you decide to engage with protestors, you may get arrested prior to casting your vote.  Some protestors may have this as the goal. Keep your head, avoid the trouble, and exercise your right to vote.

For any further questions regarding these issues or any other in the State of Kansas, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.

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