By GISEELLE ARREDONDO
• Leader & Times
Monday night’s city commission meeting brought out some debate concerning a recently proposed concealed carry policy for city employees.
The purpose of the original conceal carry plan was to establish restrictions for the possession or carrying of firearms in city-owned buildings subject to a new Kansas law that allows concealed carry effective Jan. 1, 2014.
The plan divided city buildings into two categories; non-exempt and exempt, according to city manager Mark Hall.
The non-exempt areas included City Hall, Recreation Center, Mid-America Air Museum, Convention and Tourism’s Visitors Center, Willow Tree Golf Course and Adventure Bay Water Park.
Remaining buildings, according to Hall, would be buildings that are not generally open to the public and these areas would be prohibited from concealed carry.
Non-exempt city buildings are buildings that allow the lawful possession or carrying of firearms, but prohibit the unlawful possession of other dangerous weapons. They include city buildings or areas that are designed and or operated to conduct daily business with the general public.
For example, this plan does not prohibit the lawful possession or carrying of firearms in a city parking area.
Under the previously proposed plan, any employee whose work station or office is located in a non-exempt city building would have to make a written request to the Human Resources Director before bringing a concealed weapon into a non-exempt city building.
The request would include verifiable proof of gun ownership and the employee would also need a concealed carry permit.
The city building must allow concealed carry, otherwise the request would be denied.
This plan did not prohibit the wearing, transporting, storage or presence of firearms and/or other dangerous weapons in exempt city buildings where no-weapons signs are posted.
The previous plan also directed employees would be prohibited from possession or carrying a weapon while acting in the course and scope of their employment, either on or off city property, regardless of whether the employee has a permit to carry a weapon, except as otherwise provided in AM 729 Administrative Policies and Procedure Manual.
The policy would not apply to law enforcement personnel authorized by the State of Kansas.
As soon as the next item on the consent agenda was presented, commissioner Joe Denoyer made a motion for a new concealed carry plan.
He motioned that “the City of Liberal allow all legally permitted citizens to conceal carry in all city-owned buildings with the exception of the locations where security measures are already in place.”
That includes, municipal city court, Liberal Police Department and Liberal’s Municipal Airport.
“This motion is to include employees and would include city-owned vehicles,” Denoyer said.
Denoyer added if the motion was approved by the commission, it would require a change in current personnel policy.
“I would also like it noted in the motion that concealed carry permitted employees, since the permits are not a matter of open records, shall not be required to register or report to city administration. This to include the Human Resources Department,” he said.
Commissioner Dean Aragon seconded Denoyer’s motion.
“Is there any discussion?” commissioner Janet Willimon asked.
“That’s different than what was presented in the agenda packet,” Finance Director Chris Ford said. He then asked for some legal clarification because there isn’t a detailed plan written out.
“I think if your question is because it’s contrary to what’s in the packet, then can we still proceed with the motion?” city counselor Shirla McQueen answered.
“We would have to draft a new policy to include those items... Does the detailed city policy have to be presented for consideration?” Ford asked.
“The city has to have a plan presented to the State by year’s end.” McQueen said, confirming that Denoyer’s motion was sufficient for that. She noted that it can be done independently of the meeting.
Mayor Dave Harrison, who was on the telephone for the meeting, added he doesn’t approve of the newly presented policy by Denoyer.
“I’d just like to say that staff has worked awfully hard on this policy – it’s been approved by legal counsel. I don’t know, with no research or anything else, I just can’t work with Mr. Denoyer’s deal,” Harrison said.
After much discussion, Denoyer’s motion was approved in a 3-2 vote, with Willimon and Harrison against and Denoyer, commissioner Ron Warren, and Aragon voting yes on the motion.
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