A firearms bill proposed by the Leavenworth County attorney has passed in the Kansas House of Representatives.
The bill, which would make it a felony to steal a firearm, passed Friday with a vote of 117-4. The bill will now head to the Kansas Senate.
County Attorney Todd Thompson, who created a draft of the bill that later was revised, said he was excited it had passed the House. He said he's looking forward to working with the Senate to get it passed.
"Hopefully, we can make a difference," he said.
Currently, the value of a item stolen determines whether a theft is a felony. If an item is worth less than $1,000, the theft, under existing law, is a misdemeanor.
Thompson said he introduced the proposed change in the law with assistance from Rep. Melanie Meier, whose district is in Leavenworth.
“I think it was a great idea,” Meier said.
Meier was among the members of the House who voted for the bill Friday. Local Reps. John Bradford, Connie O'Brien and Willie Dove also voted in favor of the bill's passage.
Meier said the theft of a firearm currently is treated the same as stealing a DVD or gallon of milk. And she said the people stealing firearms often are getting them into the hands of people who legally can't buy guns.
The proposed bill also would make criminal deprivation of a firearm a felony.
The bill was amended before it passed the House. The bill previously would have made the theft of a firearm as well as burglary with intent to steal a firearm “person” felonies. Now, the bill calls for the crimes to be “nonperson” felonies.
Thompson said the difference between person and nonperson felonies can impact a person's criminal history.
He said he was not surprised the bill had been amended because lawmakers likely view the crimes as property crimes.
Thompson said another bill he helped introduce has been tabled and it probably won't go forward this legislation session.
That bill, which was introduced in the Senate, would have made it illegal for people to possess prescription drugs if they didn't have prescriptions for the drugs.