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.