Weapons Ban in City Buildings Advances Through to Common Council

Council committee sends weapons ordinance forward on 6-2 vote.

An ordinance to ban firearms and select other weapons in city buildings goes to to the full Common Council next week after passing the committee level on Tuesday.

On a 6-2 vote, the Community Development Committee recommended approval of the ban, even though most members acknowledged that the ban was not enforceable if anyone should choose to enter a building with a concealed weapon.

To set the stage, City Attorney Alan Kesner said the measure is a continuation of the status quo, since concealed weapons have been banned everywhere and will continue to be so until the new state law permitting them takes effect Nov. 1.

Kesner noted, though, that open carrying of weapons was not previously banned, and this ordinance bar weapons regardless of whether they are concealed.

"The question before you is whether to allow licensed individuals to carry guns into city buildings," Kesner said. "We're just focusing on weapons, not the manner of carrying them."

The committee turned next to Police Chief Barry Weber, who two weeks ago did not commit himself for or against the ordinance. This time, he made it clear that he did not feel that the posting of signs or even the presence of police officers would deter those who wanted to bring guns to public places, and therefore law-abiding citizens would be at a disadvantage.

"I don't think we need to do more than the law already allows," Weber said. "There is a tendency to over-legislate things. The law-abiding citizens, if they want to carry guns, are not the ones I'm concerned about. It's those who aren't law-abiding."

Tosa resident Nick Schweitzer echoed that, saying, "We don't know and we never will know who has a gun" in the absence of any kind of security measures such as metal detectors at every door of every city building.

But many other residents took the opposite view, that even if the law were difficult to enforce, it should still be put in place because of what it stood for.

"It's a sad and strange night when we would even consider allowing guns into our city buildings," said Alan Nichols. He was echoed by a number of others, including Carol Wehrley, who works at the . She asked council members to pass the ordinance at least in the hope that signs might deter someone from bringing a weapon into the Muellner Building.

A lot of the debate revolved around fear. The fear, on one hand, that someone would enter or another city building with a weapon and do great harm, and the fear that if law-abiding citizens were not armed to protect others, a person with criminal intent had little to prevent him from inflicting harm.

"Fear — I kind of have to put that aside, from both sides," said Ald. Eric Meaux. "We're splitting hairs. Under another state law, we prohibit weapons in school buildings. This law would allow them, but where? In a building where children come every day, to the ?

"We set the standards, we set the expectations."

Ald. Bobby Pantuso put it all into perspective for each side of the argument.

"This is the dumbest thing we've ever debated," he said. "Side one is going to have to convince me that anyone should ever have a reason to carry a gun into City Hall.

"Side two is going to have to convince me that a sign is going to deter anyone."

In the end, Pantuso said, the whole thing was perhaps no more than symbolic, but: You shouldn't, you really ought not to, bring a gun into a public building, he said, therefore the city should ban the practice, and should post signs saying you can't, whether it can actually stop you or not.

Ray Ray Johnson September 29, 2011 at 02:08 AM
On the contrary, it sounds to me like you do like metal detectors, since you are in favor of both a cause to have metal detectors and the actual having of metal detectors. (Retail price about, what? $5000/unit? Plus maintenance, training, and upkeep. Not to mention all the signage you'll need.) By the way, do you have a friend or relative in the metal detector sales business? Or in the sign business? (Just thinking out loud.) This is elitism that puts the free man into the role of admonished subject, all because some minor ideologue wants to enact ordinances based on admittedly wholely symbolic bases, with no possibility that the enacted ordinance will actually be a deterrant to any willful acts of hostility. I think the sparkle for the council here is that THEY feel protected from the people they subjugate with this sort of feels-good, does-nothing legislation. Look, no one is advocating bringing a firearm into a city owned building, but you know you won't be satisfied to stop there. So why not agree with the police chief? "I don't think we need to do more than the law already allows," Weber said. "There is a tendency to over-legislate things. The law-abiding citizens, if they want to carry guns, are not the ones I'm concerned about. It's those who aren't law-abiding." Is it that you don't feel like you are working if you aren't making new ordinances? Sounds to me like what we called in the Army 'show-boating.'
Ray Ray Johnson September 29, 2011 at 11:26 AM
Excellent comments, Pat.
Jrock September 30, 2011 at 03:13 AM
So has Tosa Now and Tosa Patch completely missed covering a multitude of violent gun related crimes in the Civic Center, or am I missing why law abiding need to carry guns in public buildings? Last I checked none of us need to carry guns, legally or illegally. Unless you are involved in the crack trade, pretty sure you're not in any real danger.
Ray Ray Johnson September 30, 2011 at 12:09 PM
Jrock, the problem is that those who are "involved in the crack trade", et al, are moving through our town via our streets. Then often get out of their cars and begin the "alternative fund raising" portion of their failed ways. When that happens, someone will be violated who had nothing to do with 'the crack trade". People have a right to resist the violation and defend against it. Gun ownership is not a 'need', but a right; one of those 'pesky' inalienable rights endowed by our creator, and the type of right specifically enumerated to be protected against government infringement. Thank you for assessing the threat condition for the rest of my life, but I'll take care of myself, should mayhem put its roving ways in my itinerary. If you want to find safety in eliminating protections against inalienable right, I suggest the un-needed 3rd Amenedment. Everybody loves a soldier; why not house a few? They're good guys and we can save money on the costs billeting, BAQ, and sep rats. Wouldn't you feel more free and safer with a houseful of government troops? What I'm saying is, people have rights that aren't subject to your definition of 'need'. As a hyperbole to this point, I don't think you need your hot water heater. I mean, unless you are reading this in the tub or while doing dishes, you don't need your hot water heater. Sitting here with coffee in my undies, I don't need a gun right now, but what if I find myself in hot water later?
Pat R September 30, 2011 at 08:57 PM
I am against the "need" for a person to carry a weapon. In fact, many Police Officers have had their assigned weapon taken from them in fights or fire so many rounds in a crisis situation that it it luck innocent people are not killed. I don't want to carry a concealed weapon. Also, see my post above. However, I do believe criminals are less likely to target an area that more people are likely to be armed. If I am going to rob a store, the first person who must be controlled would be the security guard who has the gun, that is the threat. If I don't know if the other 10 people may have a gun, now I have to watch everyone or have more people in gang while I carry out the criminal activity. A sign is not going to stop a criminal...we all know that. But knowing where guns are not allowed, will make the criminal more apt to choose that location - less of a threat. If a person is going to go pscyho to shoot up a building because upset with city government, the only method to stop is security at the doors. The uniformed officer standing in the room otherwise is the first target. They at least have a vest and if get taken down, maybe there will be someone capable of stopping that type of an attack otherwise until the gun is empty, is it going to be pretty hard to charge at a firing weapon.


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