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Council bans guns from city property

BY ALISON SULLIVAN | FEBRUARY 16, 2011 7:20 AM

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Carrying a gun on most Iowa City city property will now be against the law.

The Iowa City City Council unanimously approved a resolution at its meeting on Tuesday that prohibits guns in city buildings, city-owned property around the buildings, and city parks.

Firearms will be allowed in parking lots or ramps, but must be unloaded, inside a closed and fastened container, and cannot be in the passenger compartment. They will not be allowed in any location at the Farmers’ Market.

The move further tightens restrictions on the state’s “shall-issue” law, which went into effective Jan. 1 and limits sheriffs’ discretion in issuing gun permits.

Before voting, the council heard from nine people who spoke out against the resolution. But councilors remained firm in their decision.

“I do think it sends the message that guns do not belong in public buildings,” said City Councilor Connie Champion.

But many residents in attendance said they believe city has no right to override the state law.

“I’m aggravated as hell,” David Hughes told the council. After the vote, he said he intends to sue the city.

Another community member recalled past shootings, stating carrying a gun can help with self-defense.

“I think it goes without saying what these rules actually did: took away any chance these people had against defending themselves,” Scott Clark said.

The Iowa City Public Library, 23 S. Linn St., has already banned guns, and the Johnson County Board of Supervisors will vote on a similar ban on Thursday.

Johnson County, a county of more than 130,000 people, has issued roughly 500 permits since Jan. 1, including 89 to people with criminal records that didn’t include deferred judgments, said Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek. Pulkrabek would have had greater discretion over who to give gun permits before the new state regulations.

Approximately 500 permits were issued in all of 2010.

Overall, Pulkrabek said, he still sees the importance of education and training for individuals who carry firearms.

“Understand, I’m not anti-gun,” he said. “I’m pro-public safety.”

He said the possibility of mixing weapons with alcohol could also cause dangerous situations.

And officials are concerned about an intimidation factor that could lead councilors or supervisors to vote a certain way if “Joe Citizen” arrived at a city meeting armed with a weapon, Pulkrabek said.

In Scott County, a county of more than 165,000, 1,100 permits have been issued to date since Jan. 1. In comparison, 850 were issued all of last year, said Scott County Sheriff Dennis Conard.

He said he isn’t surprised at the increase.

“It’s the same as the other 36 [shall-issue] states,” he said. “It’s not a big deal.”

But Conard said there are areas of concern. For example, he said, he’d like more restrictions on training and demonstrating how to properly fire a weapon.

Local officials said there likely wouldn’t be more votes on the issue.

“It’s pretty clear we’ve restricted as far as we can,” said City Councilor Mike Wright.


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