Archive for Tuesday, January 30, 2007

City asks state for advice on bar safety

Police arrest 2 more for guns downtown

January 30, 2007


The city has sent a letter to the state Alcoholic Beverage Control division asking the licensing agency what action, if any, the state could take against troublesome bars in Lawrence.

The letter, sent by City Manager David Corliss and not released to the public, asked for information on whether the state could revoke the liquor license of or otherwise punish bars that have a track record of endangering the public.

The letter did not specifically mention Last Call - a bar at 729 N.H. with a history of violent incidents - but Corliss said those incidents led to the letter.

"It's very clear that the safety issues related to Last Call and other establishments in the past have prompted our interest in what the state can do," Corliss said.

The city sent the letter just days before two more people were arrested outside the nightclub on gun possession charges.

Police early Sunday found a loaded .25-caliber handgun in a car belonging to a man and a woman from the Kansas City area after security guards at the club had asked the man to leave.

The 22-year-old Kansas City, Mo., man, and a 19-year-old Grandview, Mo., woman were booked Sunday into Douglas County Jail on charges of possessing a firearm near a bar. The man also was arrested under suspicion of possessing drugs.

The gun was at least the 21st weapon police have found in the downtown area; several have been seized from parking lots adjacent to the club.

Dennis Steffes, owner of Last Call, said his bar operated within the law and thought the city's request to the state to help revoke bar licenses was unnecessary.

Police seize another loaded weapon outside a downtown bar

With yet another loaded weapon found near a downtown bar, the city appears poised to take action. City officials are looking to seek help from the state to battle these gun issues. Enlarge video

"Nothing we do is illegal," Steffes said. "No one has come forward yet to say, 'This is what you should do different.' I'm waiting for that."

As for the weapons charges, Steffes said he couldn't control what his clientele had in their cars when they came to the club. He can only control what they bring inside the club, and he said he did all he could to ensure his patrons were safe while inside.

"I don't know what I could do to prevent a gun being in a car," he said.

City commissioners asked during their Jan. 2 meeting for staff members to contact the state about the possibility of revoking a club's liquor license. Last Call's license was renewed for another year in November.

The city will meet in a closed-door meeting this week with staff and other "concerned parties" to discuss how to proceed depending on the state's response.

Alcoholic Beverage Control officials did not return calls Monday seeking comment on what the agency could do about troublesome bars and nightclubs.

Regardless, city officials seem ready to take some action.

City Commissioner David Schauner said he was ready to move forward with a measure that would help ensure downtown safety - whether that includes special permits for bars and nightclubs or state enforcement.

"My hope is that we finally stop talking about what's going on down there and take some positive steps to make it a better environment," Schauner said. "We need to get our hands around it and make a decision."


KS 11 years, 4 months ago

Easy solution! Allow smoking in the bar and the patrons won't go outside to smoke and get their guns! :) Or.....we can ban all guns, close and outlaw all bars. Don't forget to include baseball bats, knives, golf clubs, letter openers, etc. Good luck.

girly 11 years, 4 months ago

Maybe if they received some sort of sentence for gun possession instead of being let off after arrested it might make more of an impact and they'd stay home and quit coming to Lawrence to party. Sounds like the police are doing a good job of catching them, they're just getting charges dropped later. Big deal.

adky 11 years, 4 months ago

Take home message - don't criticize the City's policies or they will close you down too.

ilovelucy 11 years, 3 months ago

Isn't it interesting that the letter to the ABC is just now being discussed? I remember distinctly that the commission requested a discussion with the ABC on January 2.

Janet Lowther 11 years, 3 months ago

Girly, they are violating state law by even taking "bar area gun violators" into custody.

State law specifically forbids municipalities from enacting stricter gun regulations than the state's.

I expect the cops will persist with their unlawful arrests 'till someone sues the city.

Kat Christian 11 years, 3 months ago

I know what Lawrence can do CLOSE THEM DOWN. We have enough party/drinking establishments in this town as it is. All these bars serve to do is enourage drinking behavior. I think the less bars there are the more young people will focus on using there time doing other things less destructive.

George_Braziller 11 years, 3 months ago

It doesn't have to be a law that Steffes or Last Call has broken. The patrons can be the trigger (no pun intended) for the declaration that a business is a nuisance. See Section C (2). City Code, Chapter 4 states:


(A) A drinking establishment or private club is a habitual public nuisance when it operates in a manner that habitually harms the public health, safety or welfare of the general public, neighboring properties or occupants of neighboring properties, or patrons. Habitual public nuisances are hereby prohibited.

(B) A habitual public nuisance as defined by Subsection (A) shall only be determined to exist if the City Commission makes the following findings:

(1) The harm to the public health, safety or welfare can be fairly attributed to the operation of the private club or drinking establishment. The proximity of other licensed premises or similar facilities shall be considered by the Commission in making this finding.

(2) The harm to the public health, safety or welfare is of a habitual nature, and not limited to isolated incidents of an infrequent occurrence.

(C) In determining the penalty for a drinking establishment or private club that is a habitual public nuisance, the City Commission shall consider:

(1) Whether the owners and operators of the drinking establishment or private club have taken actions to mitigate or eliminate the harm to public health, safety or welfare; and

(2) Whether the harm to public health, safety or welfare includes violations of law on the part of the private club or drinking establishment owners, operators, employees, or patrons.

Adrienne Sanders 11 years, 3 months ago

Last I checked, Borders is not a drinking establishment or private club as cited in the city code.

I worry that even if Last Call does get shut down, the same people will find someplace else to go and cause the same problem in a different location in town.

George_Braziller 11 years, 3 months ago

That parking lot is not exclusively Borders. It's partially owned by the City of Lawrence. Regardless of where they park, or what measures that Steffes has taken, it doesn't change the fact that the patrons of Last Call are the source of the nuisance. It was a problem when it was Tremors and has only gotten worse as Last Call. I live within shooting distance of Last Call so I get a front row seat of the activity every weekend.

oldgoof 11 years, 3 months ago

Marion is right on his 10:04 post. The city has all the tools and people to fix the problem. Asking Topeka for help is beyond ridiculous. Either that or we need to rewrite the job description for the city manager and reduce the salary accordingly. .

pweyer 11 years, 3 months ago

I only have one question with the new law coming into affect having a gun in your car is not illegal anymore right so why keep messing with the bar owner for something he cannot control. There is nothing the bar owner can do beside checking people at the door for weapons once they leave he is not responsible anymore

my2cents 11 years, 3 months ago

I found this memo between the city attorney and Corliss. It is dated last year. Pretty interesting if you care about law.

In general, - No other city in Kansas has a "close proximity" clause. (Only Lawrence) - "Close Proximity" is defined as 200ft away - It applies to all "deadly weapons" - If you have a concealed carry permit, the "close proximity" wouldn't apply. - If you are an LEO this doesn't apply

And if you think the City of Lawrence doesn't possess the power to regulate firearms this was extracted from the memo:

"The power to adopt reasonable police power regulations dealing with firearms possession is within the home rule powers of Kansas cities. See Junction City v. Lee, 216 Kan. 495 (1975)."

Just FYI

Richard Heckler 11 years, 3 months ago

No doubt new ordinances will come from this that will apply to all same type establishments. This is too bad because it is not the bar scene in general that is a problem.

Last Call owner could do all of the bar owners a favor and get out of the business. North Lawrence Club 508 owner could do the same for it too is creating problems like maybe for a decade.

rebellious_acquiescent 11 years, 3 months ago

Au contrare, Marion. The CCW preempts home rules on licensure, not location.

budwhysir 11 years, 3 months ago

This is yet another topic that I have some ideas on, and still another topic that no one asked me about.

budwhysir 11 years, 3 months ago

Wow someone is interested in my view thanks for your support. Let me collect my thoughts here.

budwhysir 11 years, 3 months ago

Politicaly speaking, as we have already read in past articles, these types of charges are not strictly charged. In a political sense, we are pointing fingers at a business owner who has no control over anything that happens on the street.

Now, if they had made arrests inside the bar for these offenses, then thats another point. So, if we have a problem with drunk people leaving a bar and driving a car with a gun in it, maybe we should have an additional penalty for this that is strictly enforced.

Just another political thought I know but hey whos counting

my2cents 11 years, 3 months ago


The City of Ottawa, Hutchinson, Wichita, Derby and Leawood and others are placing tighter restrictions on CCW than what is written in the STATE LAW. They are all claiming they are "employers" and can ban weapons from thier workplace. So that means anywhere they own property they can ban weapons. (ie... city hall, parks, city owned or leased buildings...etc...)

In-theory, if they wanted to push it they could ban it on sidewalks, right-of-ways, streets and anything else the city "owns".

The Ottawa Herald did a story on it last week.

I don't agree with what they are doing, it is not how the law was meant to be but they are getting away with it.

Oh yeah, AG Paul Morrison backs them.

rebellious_acquiescent 11 years, 3 months ago

On location limits:

In addition, the carrying of concealed weapons by license holders may also be restricted by:

A public or private employer while the license holder is on the premises of the employer's business or engaged in the duties of the person's employment by the employer.

Kat Christian 11 years, 3 months ago

This concealed weapon thing is a bomb waiting to go off. It is only going to cause violence to escalate in this town.

kj 11 years, 3 months ago

I am waiting for the Drinking Ban.

budwhysir 11 years, 3 months ago

Drinking ban?? Where did that come from?

They will not ban drinking, that just doesnt make sense, I mean what would we do if we couldnt drink, we would die of dehydration if we had no way to drink water.

Surely you dont mean they should ban drinking all together.

budwhysir 11 years, 3 months ago

They cant even finish up with the smoking ban here in Kansas how would we ban all forms of drinking

sun45kiss 11 years, 3 months ago

everyone should go back to having house parties.

stopthenoise 11 years, 3 months ago

Agree with others here. Once again, the city can't manage the city. Enforce the law! Go after the thugs who are causing the problem and not the business owner. Another example: Students leave town for the summer without paying their water bill. Solution: Well, the city now makes the landlord pay the bill and collect from tenants. Pass the buck to cover thier inability to manage themselves as a business.

More of the same.....pitiful!

budwhysir 11 years, 3 months ago

Imagine the punishment for having a house party. You would have to have this party in a house that was affordable. And you probably wouldnt be able to own the house with the bad housing market right now.

And the other problem would be upholding the smoking ban on private property during a public house party

lynnd 11 years, 3 months ago

maybe if someone started making an example of the people caught with guns downtown, the rest of the troublemakers would realize they might actually have to face charges and would think twice about coming here.

stopthenoise 11 years, 3 months ago

"This concealed weapon thing is a bomb waiting to go off. It is only going to cause violence to escalate in this town."

Sunshine-This has nothing to do with concealed weapons. Do you think these thugs applied for a permit? CC will not do anything but what it has been showed to do everywhere it has passed-reduce crime!

budwhysir 11 years, 3 months ago

A bar registry is a good idea, but, as mentioned earlier, this is not a problem at a bar, none of these occurances have happened at the bar. They all fall under the city ordinance of no fire arms within a certain radius of a a bar. (I cant quote the distance.)

Yes this has nothing to do with the permits for cw. This is a whole other issue. I dont think there is a special law that prohibits having a concealed weapon while you are intoxicated. Actualy, none of these articles have realy pointed out if the people charged have even been drinking.

As I said earlier, I dont think these problems are realy a problem with the bar. All of the infractions have taken place AFTER the people have left the bar. This could happen at a country club just as well.

Tychoman 11 years, 3 months ago

There's an easy way to ease up the bar safety problem Lawrence has: CLOSE LAST CALL!

budwhysir 11 years, 3 months ago

Im going to go out a limb here and ask the question. Keep in mind that Im not against or supporting last call.

If we close last call, can everyone be sure this will completly solve this problem? And remember, none of the people charged have ever been at Last call when they where arrested. Yes they may have been leaving there but, we cant ignore part of the picture.

Lets say this guy was from out of town and he stopped at another bar on his way into town, had a few drove to a grocery store and cashed a check, drove to another bar, had a few more then ended up at last call. Wouldnt the other bars and the grocery store also be responsible for allowing him to have a gun within the area of a bar?

Angie Dick 11 years, 3 months ago

Got to speak my mind here peoples.. Just because the bar is callled blah blah blah, what do they do send out flyer's all creeps welcome? I don't think so. Besides that how do you determine who is a trouble maker and who isn't? Yes I totally understand the safety of individuals but if you were smart? and new that it is know to have many problems outside of the place, Don't attend. The establishment is not responsible for what happens off their property, that's were the police step in. Patrol the parking lots out side, look for the so called creeps. maybe the police could step up alittle. I am more than possitive that the owner of the establishment doesn't promote violence and I am sure who ever makes a ruckess in the establishment is booted out the door with quick force. The owner of the establishment shouldn't be held responsible if someone has a gun in their car.. Now if it was in the establishment, that's a different story! I mean what are they gonna do have a lie decector at the door, gotta gun in your car? Last I new the great state of Kansas allowed people to carry concealed weapons?? and for some reason they thought people would be smart about it?? Booze and guns don't mix!! Can't smoke a cigerette but you can have a gun.. I think it is all a lil bass ackwards..

budwhysir 11 years, 3 months ago

HMMMMMM are you sure of this Conceptual?

Richard Heckler 11 years, 3 months ago

The problem is the bar owner boots the trouble makers out of the bar which potentially threatens others outside. I say the bar bouncers secure the trouble makers inside the bar where the trouble starts until the cops arrive.

Otherwise the public should avoid New Hampshire so long as the Last Call is open? Hobbs-Taylor residents should socialize before the bar opens and not stand near their windows until after the LPD declares the street safe? Borders customers will need to shop NOT during Last Call hours? Bottleneck customers will be held hostage until Last Call Zone is delared safe? La Famila will need to close before Last Call opens? Sandbar customers should avoid the Last Call zone?

introversion 11 years, 3 months ago

Sunshine and Friend,

You do realize that what's going on outside of Last Call probably has absolutely nothing to do with CCW laws.

People need to register and fulfill several other requirements to be allowed to carry a concealed weapon. Just because the state of Kansas allows a certain avenue for carrying a concealed weapon does not mean that a person can do it of their own free will.

This has brought up an interesting point, though. Does anybody have info on statistically how many of the people who have been arrested for guns outside of last call were actually permit-carriers?

I have my suspicions that it's going to be somewhere around 0%, but as I said before, thats an assumption.

tellitlikeitis 11 years, 3 months ago

This is how I see it:

I am 21 years old and I would NEVER go to Last Call, even if I was an alcoholic, desperate for a drink, and it was the only place in a 1, 000 miles that served alcohol. I think that if I where to go there I would either get: a) Shot b) Stabbed c) At the VERY least, in a fight

The owner is completely aware of the crowd his club draws, as is everyone else in the Lawrence, Topeka, and Kansas City areas. If he really wanted to fix the problem and find the solution, he could.

It would be quite easy. Make the age limit 21+. People from KC come to Lawrence because they aren't old enough to get into bars in KC, since almost all of them have at least a 21 age limit. (Some are even 23 for females and 25 for males.) By raising the age limit it reduces drama.

doc1 11 years, 3 months ago

jrlii Read your law books again. An officer can arrest for ANY class B misdemeanor. And a city CAN have strickter laws than the state. The ONLY stipulation is you can't have less strick laws.

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