Waterford looks to keep weapons out of municipal buildings

 

By Mark Dudzik

Waterford Post Editor

Discussion on a proposal to ban firearms in municipal buildings within the Village of Waterford came to a halt Monday as officials lack a consensus on the merits of such a policy.

As have other communities such as Union Grove as a result of the recent passage of the conceal carry bill, the village is looking at making it illegal for anyone – licensed or not – to carry a firearms into municipal buildings that would include the Waterford Public Library, Village Hall, and fire department.

The ban would not preclude those licensed by the state to carry a firearm to bring their weapon into other buildings within the village, such as businesses.

But the mere mention of a ban on firearms in municipal buildings infuriated Village Trustee Roy Gawlitta, who made his feelings on the concept known.

“I’m am dead set against this,” he said. “I think it’s a restriction of right.”

Outlining his feelings further, Gawlitta said he believes that enacting such an ordinance would preclude the “good guys” from bringing a gun into a municipal building while the “bad guys” would be undeterred from walking in with a weapon.

Citing the other 48 states that have enacted laws allowing for the carrying of a concealed weapon, Gawlitta said there simply haven’t been issues elsewhere as some have portrayed the potential for problems to be.

When asked what the impetus was for the proposed ban, Village Administrator Rebecca Ewald said it was a concern raised by Library Director Pam Belden that brought the issue forward.

The issue, it was later clarified, was the topic of discussion at a recent meeting of the Library Board.

Appearing before the board, Belden said she’s been through situations where an inebriated person has brought a weapon into the library and that it’s an experience she doesn’t want to have played out again.

While Gawlitta suggested that Belden simply put a sign in the window of the library indicating that guns aren’t allowed, the village’s legal counsel noted that doing so without passing an ordinance would essentially make such a policy unenforceable.

Trustee Judy Spencer said that while she’s lived in a southern state where conceal carry laws have been on the books, there’s been a decrease in crime because of it.

“It isn’t the gun that hurts,” she said, “it’s the person behind it.”

While Spencer tried to get other village department heads in attendance at the meeting to express their personal feelings on the proposed ban they were reluctant to get dragged into the discussion.

Village President Tom Roanhouse said he was “conflicted” over the proposed ban, namely because he said 99 percent of the village’s residents simply don’t enter municipal buildings with the exception of the library.

With a clear lack of consensus, discussion on the proposed ban ended, as the board is expected to revisit the proposal at a future meeting.

Under the proposal, signs would be placed inside all municipal buildings making it clear that bringing a handgun into such facilities is illegal.

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