Wichita allows guns in 111 city-owned buildings

? The Wichita City Council has voted to allow people with permits to carry their handguns in 111 city-owned buildings, except anywhere the City Council meets.

The move, which was approved Tuesday and becomes effective immediately, follows a similar move by the Sedgwick County Commission, which voted four months ago to open about 80 of its more than 100 buildings to concealed carry, The Wichita Eagle reported.

Among the places in Wichita where concealed-carry guns still won’t be allowed include any locations the City Council meets, such as City Hall.

“I think it’s hypocritical to say, ‘Sure, we’re good with guns being allowed in other public buildings, (but) not the ones where we meet,'” said Janet Miller, a council member who voted against the plan. “That, I think, is shameful in addition to being embarrassing.”

Later, Council member Michael O’Donnell, who voted for the measure, responded: “If you’re saying it’s hypocritical to exclude City Hall, we can make a motion to include City Hall.”

Places where the concealed weapons will now be allowed include 82 park and recreation sites, 19 fire department buildings, four public works and utilities buildings and five parking garages. The city owns about 390 buildings.

People with permits previously were barred from taking their handguns inside any buildings owned by the city and county. The state passed a concealed-carry law in 2006, and more than 37,000 permits have been issued since.

“Today is a sad day for this City Council that we allow some special interest group to do this,” Mayor Carl Brewer said.

Brewer charged that O’Donnell’s efforts were driven by a special-interest group that wants the state legislature to loosen its laws on where those with gun permits are allowed.

O’Donnell denied that claim after the meeting.

“I’ve never been approached by special-interest groups whatsoever. I’m completely dumbfounded by that accusation. I’m not trying to push an agenda,” he said. “I’m just trying to put us in compliance with state law.”