Editorial: Open-carry ban is right move

The city would be wise to move quickly to prevent as many guns as possible in public buildings.

The Lawrence City Commission should adopt a new ordinance banning the open carrying of firearms in city buildings.

Commissioners will vote on the proposed ban at a City Commission meeting tonight.

At its meeting today, the commissioners will decide whether to ban people from openly carrying firearms in city buildings. City staff is recommending approval of the ordinance, which would prohibit open carry in the 40-plus buildings owned or leased by the city and put in place penalties for those who violate the ban. To comply with state laws regarding the open carrying of weapons, the city must use signage on all buildings and facilities where open carrying is banned.

The proposed ordinance also sets penalties for violating the rules. People who enter a city building where signs are posted prohibiting open carrying, and then refuse to leave after being asked, would face charges of aggravated criminal trespass, a misdemeanor, according to the ordinance. Those convicted could be incarcerated for up to a year, fined up to $2,500 or both.

The ban on openly carrying firearms is not to be confused with the ban on concealed weapons. At present, the city prohibits the carrying of concealed or unconcealed firearms in city buildings. But the ban on concealed weapons is permissible only under a temporary exemption to the state’s Personal and Family Protection Act.

When that exemption ends in January, the only way the city can continue to ban concealed weapons is to put screening in place — metal detectors and/or security guards — at all entrances to public buildings. The city estimates it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to implement such security measures.

The pressures placed on municipal governments, schools and other businesses by legislators largely doing the bidding of the National Rifle Association is almost overwhelming. The notion that arming everyone will somehow make public environments safer is pure poppycock.

That’s why Lawrence is smart to move quickly to limit as many guns as possible from being carried in the city’s public facilities.