Archive for Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cities prepare for concealed carry changes

June 19, 2013

The state’s laws say that those with concealed carry permits may bring their guns into municipal buildings as of July 1, but two local cities are asking for an extension to Jan. 1, 2014.

Bonner Springs and Edwardsville’s city councils both have approved sending a letter to the Attorney General asking for an exemption until the start of 2014. Basehor, however, doesn’t plan to ask for an extension and will remove its “no guns” signs from City Hall on July 1.

When concealed carry was originally approved in 2004, there was an automatic prohibition of carrying concealed weapons in municipal buildings with approved signage at entrances for those with a concealed carry state license. The new state law allows eliminates that prohibition beginning in July, but municipalities are allowed to exempt any or all of their municipal buildings until Jan. 1, 2014.

Bonner Springs will officially approve its letter on Monday but the council discussed the matter in a workshop prior to its June 10 meeting.

John “Jack” Helin, city manager, explained that with the law, cities had four options: sending the letter for a temporary exemption; going along with the new law and allowing concealed carry weapons in city buildings; providing security measures like metal detectors or wands at all public entrances to city buildings; or adopting a resolution to exempt some or all city buildings for four years.

The third and fourth options wouldn’t be economically feasible, Helin said and council members agreed, so ultimately, the city won’t try to prevent concealed weapons on city properties like City Hall, the aquatic center and the library. The third option would mean buying metal detector equipment for nine city buildings, most of which have at least two entrances. The fourth requires cities to adopt an intricate security plan for each exempted building that “merits the prohibition of the carrying of a concealed handgun.”

Helin supported the exemption for the rest of the year largely because the new law has conflicting language concerning the city’s ability to prevent employees from carrying concealed weapons while on the job. One section says cities can’t prohibit employees from doing so, while another says city employee concealed carry can be prohibited through a personnel policy.

“Really, the letter allows us the six months to see what comes out for that section,” Helin says. “Currently our personnel policy says you can’t, and with the letter, we basically keep the status quo for another six months.”

Mayor Jeff Harrington agreed, saying it would give the city time to educate the public, as well.

The city of Edwardsville approved filing an extension at its June 10 meeting so it can consider all the options.

“The extension is necessary in order for staff to fully understand the law’s requirements, to conduct a thorough evaluation of current building security measures, and to make recommendations and/or changes to ensure compliance with the law,” city manager Michael Webb stated in his note to the council.

Edwardsville also has had a policy since 2008 prohibiting employees to carry concealed handguns while on the job.

But Basehor has no plans to file for an extension. Lloyd Martley, police chief and interim city manager, said it wasn’t a concern because the city doesn’t have a policy specifically prohibiting employees to have concealed weapons while on the job, and the city hasn’t had any problems related to that up until this point.

“We don’t think this is going to be that big of an issue for us,” Martley said.

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