Weapons Ban in City Buildings Approved

Wauwatosa Common Council votes to prohibit guns, other weapons, inside public buildings.

On a 12-4 vote, the Wauwatosa Common Council decided Tuesday night to ban certain weapons, in particular handguns, inside city buildings.

Signs will soon go up soon at all city-owned buildings warning the public that firearms, as well as electric stun guns and certain types of knives, are not allowed, regardless of whether they are carried openly or concealed.

With Wisconsin's new concealed carry law about to go into effect, Wauwatosa is just one of many cities and villages considering or having already voted on such bans. Up to now, Wauwatosa did not ban openly carried weapons in its buildings except for part of City Hall when Municipal Court was in session.

The prospect of having a more strict ban — no such weapons at all — than it did before concealed carry was approved by the Legislature and Gov. Scott Walker has left some citizens and public officials feeling betrayed.

But the weight of public opinion was heavily in favor of the ban. Being put on file Tuesday night were 59 e-mails supporting the weapons ban and one against.

The measure was forwarded to the council recommending approval from the Community Development Committee.

The ordinance change was passed with almost no debate. Only Ald. Jacqueline Jay commented briefly, saying that she planned on voting against the ban.

"I'm going to go along with Police Chief Weber," she said.

Police Chief Barry Weber said last week that he did not support the weapons ban because he does not believe it is enforceable and because he does not believe the city needs more regulations than it already has.

The city has no metal detectors or other mechanisms to discover concealed weapons that might be brought into a building, and no city official has shown any inclination to implement measures to detect weapons.

Violating the weapons ban will be subject the laws covering trespassing, City Attorney Alan Kesner said. Depending on the circumstances, a person known to have brought a weapon into a city building might simply be asked to leave, could be given a municipal citation for trespassing or might even be arrested on a state criminal charge.

Kesner said the ordinance itself does not attempt to set any threshholds for penalties or what would constitute a criminal act. It would be up to law enforcement authorities to decide, likely based on factors such as what they judged the violator's intent to be.

Ray Ray Johnson October 05, 2011 at 04:16 PM
Let's get rid of the outdated 3rd Amendment while we're at it. As I've argued, everyone loves a soldier! Imagine how much more free and safe we'll feel if we have the protection of federal troops in our houses. Because, and here's the sarcastic point: we'll all be safer if we willingly and happily give up our constitutionally protected prohibitions against infringment on our inalienable rights. The rights of the individual willingly layed down to provide the appearance of a safer society makes sense, doesn't it? Heck, we all love the Patriot Act, despite that it eliminated your protections guaranteed under the 4th Amendment. Who's not patriotic? Geez, it's the PATRIOT act! You HAVE to love it if you love America, right? It feels good to be patriotic, doesn't it? You people seem to want to jump on board with getting rid of the protections offered under the 2nd Amendment with this stupid, expensive and worthless ordinance, so why don't we just get rid of the 3rd Amendment too and invite the military home to YOUR Wauwatosa home? Then we won't NEED the absurd, do-nothing but feel-good ordinance, because we'll have Federal troops at hand ALL the time to make us a safer society! You are talking about giving up REAL personal freedom as a SYMBOLIC gesture to indicate you are pro-safety, and you KEEP talking about it. Geez-walk around with a helmet on for safety if you want, but leave the rest of our freedom alone. Will the last American to leave please bring the flag with them?
jbw October 05, 2011 at 04:47 PM
Like the police chief said, it's a matter of enforcement. If a law has no enforcement or is very difficult to enforce then it has no teeth to deter people from ignoring it at their convenience. It's not that difficult to bust someone creating a public scene speeding through every red light in town. It's a lot more difficult to catch someone carrying a concealed weapon while going about their daily business.
Greg Walz-Chojnacki October 05, 2011 at 05:44 PM
Fair point jbw, but it could also be argued that the point of bringing a weapon into a public space is to be able to produce it at some point, at which point the person would clearly be in violation of the law and subject to sanction. So, a law against it would be a deterrent. We already have laws like this. If someone use illegal drugs in their home, e.g., it'd be difficult to enforce laws against their use. I'm sure others can think of similar examples of laws that we find difficult to enforce, but nevertheless enact because of public sentiment, or some other perceived public good. And, by the way, we had laws against concealed carry for a long time. The laws weren't changed because they were deemed unenforceable; the change came because of some sentiment in favor of concealed weapons. I believe that sentiment is misguided, and a minority view, to boot, but that's a different thread. :-)
jbw October 05, 2011 at 08:17 PM
I still think the net effect on society will be insignificant either way, as arbitrary legislation doesn't change us into different people. But I can't think of any scenario where I would be deterred from the much more serious crime of threatening or attacking someone with a concealed weapon because of the penalty for the lesser crime of possessing said weapon. Either I'm carrying it for self-defense - in which case I don't have the intention of producing it, or I'm carrying it for offense - in which case I've already committed to a more serious crime. Either way the ban is also irrelevant.
Ray Ray Johnson October 05, 2011 at 10:39 PM
Little frogs in the simmering beaker of tyranny.


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