Hays City Commission bans open-carry firearm in city buildings
(tmn.fhsu.edu) In order to answer the concerns of city employees, the Hays City Commission voted at this past Thursday’s regular meeting to prohibit the open carry of firearms within twelve city-owned buildings. Don Scheibler, Hays’ chief of police, presented the city staff recommendations to ban open carry in twelve city-owned buildings. Kansas House Bill 2578 prohibits the ban of open carry of weapons with exceptions to certain buildings such as city-operated buildings and schools. “With the passing of House Bill 2578, which became law on July 1, 2014, cities and counties may no longer create or enact laws to ban or regulate open carry, except in limited circumstances,” Scheibler said. “On the streets, or in the parks, there is a limit to what a city can do.”
Scheibler stated that House Bill 2578 allows building owners, including the city, to prohibit any firearm inside their building, as long as they have the approved signage by the state Attorney General’s office. It is then unlawful for any firearm allowed inside the building.
“In December of last year, Hays City Commission voted to allow concealed carry into all of [the twelve] buildings,” Scheibler said. “However, open carry exposes the public to someone who is potentially untrained in their firearms, and the unconcealed weapon may frighten, alarm, and or intimidate citizens or employees.”
There was concern from a few of the commissioners about how the decision might affect the Second Amendment-the right to own and bear arms.
“With the passing of this bill, my understanding was that the procedural change was not much,” said Kent Steward, Hays city commissioner. “The protocol now, according to Chief Scheibler, would be that the person who is open-carrying would be approached and confirmed to not be a threat. With the ban in place, they would be approached, informed of the ban, and then asked to leave. The only issue would occur if they refused to follow the lawful order.”
Several commissioners spoke up about how criminals with firearms would certainly not follow the legal rules of prohibiting firearms within certain buildings. It was stated that the approval and enactment of this law would serve as a prohibitive measure against possible threats in buildings relevant to firearms.
“I don’t mind open carry, but I do not like it in confined areas,” said Ron Mellick, Hays city commissioner. “It bothers me if someone is between me and the door, with an open carry [firearm]. I can’t get away. If it is out on the street, I can cross the street, I can turn around and go back. I can get away.”
Several citizens voiced their opinions, which was taken into account during the discussion.The law eventually passed by a count of four to one, with Steward voting against.