Saturday, October 25, 2014

City holsters concealed carry with extension

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 12/20/2013

“No guns allowed” will continue to be the policy the next four years for properties owned by the City of Ottawa.

Ottawa city commissioners voted 4-0 Wednesday to apply for a four-year extension to temporarily ward off state legislation enacted July 1 that would allow licensed concealed carry permit holders to bring their firearms into many public buildings across the state. The legislation was passed during the 2013 session and signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback.

“No guns allowed” will continue to be the policy the next four years for properties owned by the City of Ottawa.

Ottawa city commissioners voted 4-0 Wednesday to apply for a four-year extension to temporarily ward off state legislation enacted July 1 that would allow licensed concealed carry permit holders to bring their firearms into many public buildings across the state. The legislation was passed during the 2013 session and signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback.

The Senate substitute for House Bill 2052 enacted new law and amended existing law concerning firearms, criminal law and the Personal and Family Protection Act (concealed carry of handguns).

The legislation would allow the possession of firearms on certain governmental property, including municipal buildings such as the building shared by Ottawa City Hall, 101 S. Hickory St., and the Ottawa Library, 105 S. Hickory St. The law excludes school districts from the definition of governmental property or municipalities.

Ottawa city commissioners have expressed concerns about the bill on numerous occasions since it was adopted. The commission voted 5-0 in June to authorize the mayor and city manager to submit an exemption request to the Kansas Attorney General’s Office that excluded city-owned buildings from the new legislation until Jan. 1, 2014. On Wednesday, the city approved submitting another exemption request to the state attorney general’s office.

Bob Bezek, city attorney, told commissioners during a study session Monday the exemption would allow the city to continue to ban weapons from its buildings for the next four years while it develops a strategy for dealing with the new requirements.

That strategy might include installing a metal detector at the public entrance and hiring an armed security guard or police officer to be on duty when City Hall is open to the public, Richard Nienstedt, city manager, previously said. One of the bill’s provisions requires “adequate security measures” be implemented at public entrances of state and municipal buildings to prohibit the carrying of any weapon into the building. Lawmakers exempted the state capitol building where they work from the new law, city officials have pointed out.

Nienstedt and other city officials also have said that installing a metal detector and hiring an armed security guard would be cost prohibitive for the City of Ottawa and many municipalities across the state.

The cost to install added security measures at City Hall could run up to $80,000 the first year, city officials said.

A metal detector and wand could range from around $5,000 to $16,000 to purchase and install, depending on the quality of the detector, Dennis Butler, Ottawa police chief, told commissioners in June when the city applied for the temporary extension. Wages could range from $34,000 to $48,000, depending on the type of employee hired to provide security, he said. A private security guard, supervised by city staff, would cost less than a certified police officer who would be under the supervision of the police department, Butler said.

The cost estimate does not include providing “adequate security measures” at other such public-access buildings as the Ottawa Municipal Airport, 2178 Montana Road, the Carnegie Cultural Center, Fifth and Main streets, the City Pool, 419 N. Locust St., Friends of the Library building, 209 E. Second St., public lobby of the Ottawa Law Enforcement Center, 715 W. Second St., Ottawa Municipal Auditorium, 301 S. Hickory St., and Don Woodward Community Center, 517 E. Third St., Ottawa city officials said.

The city owns about 20 buildings, but not all of them are readily accessible to the public, such as the water treatment plant.

If adequate security measures are not adopted before the four-year extension runs out, Nienstedt said, the legislation would require city officials to remove the placards that ban guns from city buildings and allow licensed concealed carry permit holders to bring guns into city-owned public buildings.

During Monday’s study session and at a Dec. 3 legislative dinner in Ottawa, Blake Jorgensen, city commissioner, called the new legislation an unfunded mandate that places the financial burden of installing these security measures on the City of Ottawa and other municipalities across the state. Jorgensen and other city commissioners are hopeful the new legislation will be revisited in the coming legislative session.

“I believe the cost was going to be about $80,000 to put in suitable doors and have metal detectors and a guard,” Jorgensen said at the legislative dinner. “That’s one mill for our community, and that’s just one building in our community right here in Franklin County. There are 630 municipalities and 105 counties ... this decision is to be made by each of these public entities.”

But state Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, defended the legislation — both after it was passed and again during the Dec. 3 legislative dinner when Jorgensen brought up the topic during a question-and-answer session.

“Interesting [that], last year, not one person testified against this bill in the Senate, and I’m pretty sure nobody did in the House,” Tyson said at the legislative dinner. “ ... It went through pretty easily.”

She pointed out that people who are licensed to carry a concealed weapon have to complete training with the weapon, undergo a background check, register with their local sheriff’s office and are on a list in the state attorney general’s office.

“It’s not just anybody that can carry,” she said.

Tyson said she understood the fiscal concerns Jorgensen raised, but that she was a proponent of the Second Amendment and said it was important that it be protected. The state senator said she was not opposed to the four-year extension to allow municipalities an opportunity to develop their security plans.

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