Holcomb to delay new state concealed-carry law

6/13/2013

By SCOTT AUST

By SCOTT AUST

saust@gctelegram.com

The Holcomb City Council decided Wednesday to delay implementation of a new state law that allows people with concealed-carry permits to carry concealed handguns into public buildings.

The law goes into effect July 1. But cities, counties, and other public entities can seek an extension until Jan. 1, 2014, to determine a security plan for public buildings if the entities wanted to continue prohibiting guns in public buildings.

According to information the council received from the Kansas League of Municipalities, the law provides three options: take down signs and allow concealed weapons to be carried by the public and public employees; install metal detectors and personnel at every public entrance and continue prohibiting firearms; or do a security assessment and create a plan to address building security which would allow for a four-year exemption from the law.

Robin Pena, city administrator, said as far as employees being allowed to carry guns while on the job, the city could prohibit it during work if the city addresses it in its personnel policy for all employees. She said the six-month extension will allow Holcomb some time to create a plan of action for how it intends to keep everyone safe.

"I don't think that's going to be too hard for Holcomb because our police department is right here, and our court is right here," she said. "My understanding is (the plan) just has to be on file here. They don't review it or anything."

Council members indicated the extension would also allow time to see what other cities or public entities do to address security, or if there will be changes in the law to make requirements clearer.

"You would think the state law would have addressed some of these things," council member Greg Cox said.

In other business, the council decided to take no action on a request from a citizen for a waiver from the city's anti-pit bull ordinance so she can foster that breed of dog up to 8 months of age and find them new homes.

The city's pit bull ordinance, implemented in 1988, prohibits keeping pit bulls in Holcomb. Several weeks ago, the city asked its attorney to review the issue and make a recommendation about a possible waiver.

Mayor Gary Newman said attorney Bill Heydman indicated in a memo the city would be better off revising the entire ordinance rather than trying to create a waiver because several ordinances could come into play, which would open up many questions and "what-if" scenarios.

Allowing the citizen a waiver could also create issues with future requests and claims of the city not being fair to others who wanted to have a pit bull, the memo said.

On another issue, the council voted to waive its ordinance banning fireworks within the city to allow shooting fireworks purchased or approved for sale within Finney County from 10 a.m.. to 11:59 p.m. on July 4. However, people would still be prohibited from shooting fireworks on city streets, alleyways or in public parks.

Additionally, if Finney County decides to ban fireworks within the county, Holcomb would also ban fireworks on July 4.

Holcomb Fire Chief Bill Knight said the thought process of allowing fireworks on July 4 is it prevents some potential fire issues by keeping people near their homes instead of spreading out into the county to shoot fireworks where conditions are very dry.

"At their homes, it's supervised. There's green grass. We have the ability for the fire department to respond quickly if there is an issue," he said. "It's really worked to our advantage over the years we've done it."

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