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Councilors to vote on gun ban

BY MADISON BENNETT | FEBRUARY 15, 2011 7:20 AM

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The National Rifle Association may be planning to challenge a new Iowa City resolution that would increase gun control on city-owned property, one Iowa City official said.

Assistant City Attorney Eric Goers, who drafted the resolution, said he is confident the NRA won’t have a case.

“I’m certainly not here to guarantee any victory,” he said. “But I think we’re in good legal standing.”

Goers was careful to specify the resolution will not apply to everything within city limits but rather only city-owned property and city buses.

“It’s a general blanket ban on firearms [on city-owned property],” said Mayor Matt Hayek.

City councilors are set to vote on the resolution today during their meeting, and Hayek said he expects the resolution will pass.

Unlike a city ordinance, today will be the only time councilors vote on the resolution if they pass it.

The resolution stems from a change in state legislation that declared Iowa a shall-issue state. The change took effect Jan. 1.

“That means two things: more permits and there’s no longer a requirement for concealment,” City Attorney Eleanor Dilkes said.

As a result of the change, a number of municipalities and government entities are responding.

At the Feb. 10 Johnson County Board of Supervisors meeting, several community members brought up discussion of a similar resolution, which would prohibit firearms in county-owned buildings, parks, and recreation areas. The supervisors are scheduled to vote on the resolution Thursday.

Some local entities have banned firearms from their premises, including the Iowa City Public Library. The Iowa City School District has displayed signs prohibiting firearms at the district office.

Under Iowa Constitution Article III, local government officials have the authority to restrict firearms further than state legislation.

The city’s resolution would generally ban the presence of firearms, but it carves out numerous exceptions.

For military funerals with gun salutes, firearms will be allowed. But the exception does not extend to military personnel in general.

Goers said Police Chief Sam Hargadine didn’t think there’d be a reason for a member of the military to be armed within city limits.

The firearm ban does not include roads, and parking lots and parking ramps are excluded as well because they are more or less an extension of the roadway. But the firearms must be unloaded and stored.

“If you have it in the trunk, it’s not a big deal,” Goers said. “Walking around with it in your pocket, that’s a different story.”


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