Kansas senators keeping state in backward mode

Two recent votes by Kansas Senators Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback reveal their ideological lockstep.
On Tuesday, both were in the minority when they voted (1) not to cut fiduciary waste and (2) to expand gun rights.
The first vote was to stop the production of seven F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets. The fighter jets, conceived to fight the Russians during the 1980s Cold War, have not been flown in combat in either Iraq or Afghan-istan. We have 187 of the relics mothballed.
The U.S. has devoted $60 billion to their production and maintenance. The Pentagon, two presidents and the last two Joint Chiefs of Staff have pleaded that production of the planes cease, mainly because they have a better plane, the F-35 Lightning, at the ready.
Defense Sec. Robert Gates has asked repeatedly that production of the planes be stopped, so the department may buy the kind of equipment U.S. soldiers can use to fight effectively.
Scrapping the F-22s is a $1.75 billion savings. The vote was 58-40 to do so.
By their actions, Brownback and Roberts voted to continue throwing money at the obsolete.
Because the U.S. House had budgeted to fund an additional 12 aircraft, the issue must now be resolved in conference before the defense bill is presented to President Obama, who has said he will veto any bill that includes additional aircraft.

THE SECOND vote was to expand the rights of gun owners by allowing the concealed carry of firearms across state lines.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., wrote the measure with truck drivers in mind, saying they should be able to protect themselves as they travel state to state.
Opponents saw the measure as a legalistic nightmare, requiring states to rewrite their laws so they would all conform. The fear also was that uniformity between states — in itself anathema to Republicans, core defenders of states’ rights — would ease restrictions for gun carriers.
Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said the proposal would allow people from states that give permits to those with alcohol problems, or child abuse convictions, or which don’t require any firearms training, to carry concealed guns into states with more rigorous conditions for issuing permits.
Arizona allows permits to people with drinking problems. Alaska does not bar those with violent misdemeanor convictions from carrying concealed weapons.
Thune’s measure would have made concealed weapons permits from one state valid in other states, save for Illinois and Wisconsin, which are the lone holdouts banning concealed carry.
Republicans voted overwhelming for the measure that fell short by only three votes.

IT’S A TOSS-UP to see which of the votes is more harmful: Voting to maintain spending on obsolete weaponry or making state lawmakers revise gun laws to adopt a national standard. Either way, Brownback and Roberts are keeping Kansas in backward mode.

— Susan Lynn