Friday, April 18, 2014

2013 TOP STORY NO. 5: Concealed carry law

By The Herald Staff | 12/30/2013

City and county officials dodged a pricey bullet — for now.

City of Ottawa and Franklin County officials both are filing exemptions from the state’s new concealed carry law that would force city and county municipalities and any building owned by the city and county to provide “adequate security” at a hefty price or allow concealed carry weapons on the premises.

City and county officials dodged a pricey bullet — for now.

City of Ottawa and Franklin County officials both are filing exemptions from the state’s new concealed carry law that would force city and county municipalities and any building owned by the city and county to provide “adequate security” at a hefty price or allow concealed carry weapons on the premises.

Local legislators were fired up over the new law after it went into effect July 1. 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).

County officials recently conducted a study on how much it would cost to supply “adequate security” at all of the county facilities, Steve Harris, chairman of the board of commissioners said previously. The board of commissioners recently voted to exempt the Franklin County Courthouse, 301 S. Main St., Ottawa, from the concealed carry law, while allowing concealed carry weapons in the Franklin County Annex, 1428 S. Main St.

“With the annex, that building is open and also has Ottawa Family Physicians and [Ransom Memorial Hospital], so it’s not just a county building or occupied by just county employees,” Harris said. “The building is open beyond county business hours and also on the weekend.”

City and county officials have the next four years to mull over how to afford to put in the “adequate security,” which would consist of metal detectors and an armed guard at each entrance of every building owned by the city and county.

During the Dec. 16 city commissioners 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 said they 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.”

Both city and county officials are waiting to see if changes come to the new law in the new legislative session.

“That’s one of the things we’re cognizant of — things change,” Harris said. “The statute could be rescinded, amended and be different in four years. But if it stays as it is, at the end of four years, you’ve got to put a security plan in place to keep concealed carry [weapons] out, buy equipment and have guards or you allow [concealed carry weapons] and put up new signs and bring conceal carry in.”

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